France is using Bali G20 summit to launch new Indo-Pacific strategy

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BALI — French President Emmanuel Macron is using the G20 summit to relaunch France’s strategic ambitions in the Asia-Pacific region.

He is meeting with regional heavyweights, including Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the sidelines of the Bali summit.

Above all, he hopes for “recognition” of France’s ambitions and influence at the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC), Thursday and Friday in Bangkok, where it will be the first European country invited.

The challenges are numerous: from the size of the area in which France is trying to project itself, more than 10,000 kilometers from Europe, to the difficulties of deploying military assets so far from home, in particular.

Macron has made this vast area stretching from the East African coasts to the West American coasts a strategic priority, where France has many territories and maritime areas.

This vast maritime space means France has a vested interest in environmental and fisheries issues, as well as the fight against ocean-related trafficking.

France is also increasingly present militarily, favoring growing cooperation with neighboring countries.cIt is increasing joint exercises with India and Japan and patrols in the China Sea.

Meanwhile, European Union leaders met Tuesday on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali.

Macron sat down with, amongst others, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte alongside top EU officials Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel.

The G20 group of the world’s biggest economies is meeting in Bali this week, and European countries are represented by France, Germany, Italy, the European Union, the UK, Turkey, and Russia.

Also, a draft of a declaration by leaders of G20 countries said “most” members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine.

The countries involved stressed it was “causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy,” the draft said, suggesting that Russia had opposed the language.

The G20 members also voiced deep concern over the challenges posed to global food security by escalating tensions and called for the need for central bank independence to ensure they keep up efforts to rein in soaring inflation, the draft showed.

European leaders have been using their G20 speeches to hit out at Russia and make it personal with Putin — even as the Russian delegation was sitting in the same room.

Britain’s new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “I’m going to use this opportunity to condemn Russia’s hostile and illegal war in Ukraine unequivocally. And I know that other allies will as well because it’s right that we highlight what is going on and hold Russia to account for that.

“I won’t shy away from doing that,” said Sunak.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky gave a video address to the summit and made a point of snubbing Russia by addressing them as the “G19”. Russian President Vladimir Putin did not attend the Bali event.

Zelensky reiterated 10 conditions for ending the conflict that began in February, among them a complete withdrawal of Russian troops and full restoration of Ukrainian control of its territory.

He also called for an international conference to “cement the key elements of the post-war security architecture in the Euro-Atlantic space, including guarantees for Ukraine.”

Talks at the G20 summit were beginning under the hopeful theme of “recover together, recover stronger” after the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic consequences.

G20 members include both industrialized and developing nations and account for 80% of the world’s economic activity and two-thirds of the world’s population.

The summit’s official focus is financial stability, health, sustainable energy and digital transformation, but tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have complicated host Indonesia’s efforts to build consensus to tackle those topics. — Euronews



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