PARIS Aug 30 (TNS): France’s youngest-ever president Emmanuel Macron, who took power in May on a promise to boost France’s international standing, said he would work with the various powerbrokers in the Middle East including Iran and Saudi Arabia.
He vowed to make his country a leading power in an unstable, increasingly polarized world.
“Some have chosen [their camp]. It’s a mistake. The strength of our diplomacy is to speak to all sides,” he said in the first major foreign policy speech of his five-year term.
The 39-year-old also insisted there was no alternative to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which saw sanctions eased on the Islamic republic in exchange for curbs to its nuclear program. It has been fiercely opposed by US President Donald Trump who has called it a “terrible” deal.
“There is no alternative to the non-proliferation agenda. It enables a constructive and demanding relationship with Iran,” Macron said, underlining one of many policy disagreements between him and the US leader.
He won kudos for making a bold start on the international stage, using frank and uncompromising language with both Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin within his first weeks in office. He raised human rights with Putin and spoke out against Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris accord on fighting climate change before later rolling out the red carpet to the Republican leader.
The only weal point is that France’s armed forces are in action as part of the US-led international coalition fighting IS in Syria and Iraq.
Macron also fleshed out his plans for deepening the integration of the European Union, which he placed at the heart of his successful election campaign at the head of a new centrist political party. “We should imagine a Europe of several formats: going further with those who want to advance, while not being held back by states which want… to progress slower or not as far,” he said.
His proposals include creating a budget for the 19-member eurozone which will be overseen by a finance minister and new parliament — a major institutional change.