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French ambassador to Australia: “Deliberate deception” and “backstabbing” cancels submarine contract

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French ambassador to Australia: 'Deliberate deception' and 'backstabbing' cancels submarine contract

France's ambassador to Australia, Jean-Pierre Tembo, said today that the government of Oceania had deceived his country by canceling a multi-billion-euro contract to supply a fleet of conventional submarines to its navy.

“The deception was deliberate,” Tempo told the media in Canberra.

“And because much more was at stake than the supply of submarines, because an agreement on issues of national sovereignty had been reached, sealed with the transmission of top-secret data, the way it was done was a backstabbing,” he added.

The Australian government canceled its contract with France in mid-September, preferring to acquire at least 12 nuclear-powered submarines from the United States instead of conventional submarines. The move was part of the agreement to establish the Australia-UK-US alliance, or AUKUS, from the three countries' initials in English.

The decision by the government of Australian right-wing Prime Minister Scott Morrison has sparked outrage in Paris and a crisis in France's relations with both Australia and the United States. President Emanuel Macron went so far as to recall the ambassadors to Washington and Canberra for consultations, an unprecedented move.

Mr Tembo returned to Canberra last month. Today's speech was his first public statement on bilateral relations since the September developments.

“This is not happening between partners, much less between friends,” said the French ambassador, assuring that his government has nothing to blame the people of Australia.

President Macron said Sunday that he now “knows” that Prime Minister Morrison “lied to him” about his intentions. Mr Morrison denied the allegations. He added that he had already explained to the French president that the conventional submarines were not enough for the needs of his country's Defense Ministry.

The President of France and the Prime Minister of Australia spoke last week. Mr Morrison arranged for a public handshake with Mr Macron in Rome, where they attended the G20 summit.

The destabilization of the bilateral as a former close relationship between the two countries threatens to have much wider consequences: it threatens to metastasize in the field of trade.

The European Union has twice postponed a new round of trade talks with Australia. Expressing solidarity with Paris, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is now questioning whether such an agreement should even be reached.

The relationship is being tested even more as this week media outlets published messages between Scott Morrison and Emanuel Macron, which apparently leaked to refute the French accusations that Canberra had not warned that the contract would be canceled.

For the French ambassador, the leak of the messages is “an unprecedented nadir”. The move, Mr Tembo added, sends a worrying message to all other leaders that confidential communications with the Australian government could one day “turn into a weapon used against you”.

US President Joe Biden acknowledged last week that the way the new alliance was formed was awkward, adding that he was left with the impression that France had been informed of the cancellation of the submarine supply contract before announcing the AUKUS merger.

Source: politis.com.cy

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