Macron apologies to Eastern Europe over Russian concern

Macron apologies to Eastern Europe over Russian concern


French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday that Western European countries and France in particular should have listened more to Eastern Europeans’ worries on Russia, trying to revert a decades long distrust of Paris by countries in the region.

Macron was speaking in Bratislava at the GLOBSEC think tank, a security forum held in the Slovak capital. He told the forum that “Some said you had missed an opportunity to shut up. I think we also lost an opportunity to listen to you. This time is over.” The French president was referring to a famous remark that his predecessor Jacques Chirac said in 2003. Chirac had said that Eastern European countries who decided to side with the United States in the war in Iraq missed “a good opportunity to shut up.”

Following those words, just one year before the big Eastern expansion of the EU, Eastern European countries started a long period of mistrust of France. The tense relationship continued in recent years, with Poland openly criticizing Macron for his willingness to keep the dialogue open with Vladimir Putin after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

During the speech, Macron called for an end of the division between “old Europe” and “new Europe,” adding that Europe should create its own defence structure to be more independent and avoid relying too much on the United States. He thanked the US for its contribution in money and materials, but warned over relying too much on the transatlantic ally. “Let’s be grateful and say thank you to the United States. But is this administration here forever?” Macron wondered, referring to the upcoming 2024 presidential election, where former US President Donald Trump – known for his antagonistic stance against NATO and European countries – could be again a candidate.

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