Posted in: 01/11/2021 – 08:56
French President Emmanuel Macron said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison lied to him about canceling a contract to build submarines in September and suggested more needed to be done to rebuild trust between the two allies.
Macron and Morrison are in Rome for the G20 summit, the first time they have met since Australia scrapped a multi-billion dollar submarine deal with France as part of a new security alliance with the United States and Britain announced in September. A new security alliance called Ocos could allow Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines. This alliance surprised Paris and saw the recall of French ambassadors from Washington and Canberra amid accusations that France had been betrayed.
“I have a lot of respect for your country. I have a lot of respect and a lot of friendship for your people and I say only when there is respect you have to be honest and you have to act according to this value and in accordance with it,” Macron told a group of Australian journalists who traveled to cover the G20. When asked if he thought Morrison lied to him, Macron said: “I don’t think, I know.”
Speaking later at a media conference on Sunday in Rome, Morrison said he had not lied and had previously made clear to Macron that conventional submarines would not meet Australia’s needs. He said the process of repairing the relationship had begun. Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce urged France to view the matter in its proper light.
“We didn’t steal an island and we didn’t deface the Eiffel Tower. It was a contract,” Joyce told reporters in Morey, 644 km northwest of Sydney. “Contracts have terms and conditions, and one of those terms and conditions and suggestions is that you may withdraw from the contract.” US President Joe Biden said on Friday that he believed France had been notified of the contract’s cancellation before the Okos deal was announced. He said that the approach to dealing with the new security agreement was unsuccessful.