June 23. 2024. 1:15

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Berlin, Prague fume at Macron’s US-China comments


French President Emmanuel Macron’s renewed push to boost EU strategic autonomy and for the bloc to be less eager to sign up to US foreign policy goals has been met with stern criticism from German politicians, although the government has yet to comment.

In Prague, politicians went further, accusing Macron of undermining transatlantic relations.

This has sparked harsh criticism from American and German politicians, with US Republican Senator Marco Rubio asking whether Macron is “speaking for Europe.”

On the German side, Metin Hakverdi, a centre-left SPD lawmaker, was the first to speak about the situation.

“Macron is doing it again. Talking his head off in Beijing with zero authorisation from the EU. He will then surely organise security guarantees for Ukraine all by himself,” the senior lawmaker said.

The most senior German politician to criticise Macron was Norbert Röttgen, of the centre-right CDU. Röttgen, a former minister and candidate for party leadership, warned of French policy leading to a “geopolitical dead end” for Europe.

Ukraine had shown that Europe’s continued dependence on the US in security policy matters persisted.

“It’s almost ironic that Macron, of all people, who does even less for Ukraine than Scholz, alienates the United States with his China statements,” he said.

“If the Americans had thought the same way since 24.2.2022, Ukraine would no longer exist, and Putin would probably already be standing outside Paris,” said CDU lawmaker Tilman Kuban. It is generally understood that Ukraine would not have been able to withstand Russia’s invasion in February 2022 without US assistance.

Lawmakers from the business-friendly FDP and the Greens have yet to comment.

‘Absolutely disgraceful and wrong

In the Czech Republic, which considers Taiwan its close political and economic ally, the reactions were strong, and politicians criticised Macron for undermining Europe’s alliance with Washington.

“Macron in China has undermined a key alliance between Europe and the US,” Czech Senator Miroslava Němcová from the ruling Civic Democratic Party (ODS, ECR) tweeted.

“According to Macron, we must resist the pressure to reduce our dependence on the United States and not be drawn into a confrontation between China and the US over Taiwan. Absolutely disgraceful and wrong. Europe, on the other hand, must resist a completely different kind of pressure and balance the power of China with the US,” chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Czech Chamber of Deputies Marek Ženíšek (TOP 09, EPP) said.

Ženíšek was among the Czech politicians who recently visited Taiwan together with a large business delegation.

Czech Senator David Smoljak also slammed Macron’s comments on Europe’s strategic autonomy.

“When the Council of the EU agreed last year on the need for strategic autonomy, it had in mind strengthening our independence from Russia and China. In any case, reassuring the Asian giant that Taiwan is not our business does nothing to reduce the risk of military conflict. On the contrary!” David Smoljak (STAN, EPP) warned.

(Nikolaus J. Kurmayer | EURACTIV.de, Aneta Zachová | EURACTIV.cz)