Speech by Catherine Colonna delivered on board the surveillance frigate Prairial (15 April 2023)

Speech by Catherine Colonna delivered on board the surveillance frigate Prairial (15 April 2023)

France - Amsterdam Aesthetics originally published at France - Amsterdam Aesthetics


Thank you very much for your welcome on board the frigate Prairial. This stopover in the Republic of Korea comes after a long voyage, from French Polynesia, which has not exactly been – and we’ll come back to this – plain sailing for you and your crew. I commend you all for your commitment to serving our country.

The presence of our Navy so far from Metropolitan France, but in a strategic region for our security interests, is nothing new. Our Navy knows these waters well, France knows them. So our meeting today on board the Prairial is no coincidence. It gives me an opportunity to share some messages with you.

My first message is one of solidarity between France and Korea.

As we approach the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, I want to say to our Korean friends that you can count on France’s commitment by your side, today and tomorrow, as you have in the past. Our two countries are bound by history. We share the same vision of the world, founded on the same commitment to democracy, human rights, and without any doubt our independence, but also the independence of all countries within the United Nations multilateral system.

In the face of North Korea’s unacceptable forging ahead with the illegal development of its nuclear and ballistic programmes, we stand alongside South Korea.

We will not compromise on the imperative of complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea. And we will continue to rally our diplomatic and military assets, such as the frigate Prairial, to ensure that Security Council resolutions, which apply to all, are respected.

This threat from the North is set against a backdrop of rising tensions and a serious undermining of the rules-based international order.

This is particularly true in the Indo-Pacific. My second message concerns that part of the world.

There is no need for me to mention here the importance of this region for France, which is the only European State to have territories here, in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, with the world’s second-largest exclusive economic zone, and permanent sovereignty resources which are destined to grow significantly in the coming years, in accordance with the military programming act.

The Russian war of aggression in Ukraine does not change our focus on the Indo-Pacific. It is also important that the countries of the Indo-Pacific do not turn their backs on the war in Ukraine, seeing it as an exclusively European crisis. Everything is linked. Either way, it is a question of compliance with the most fundamental principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and our common charter: the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States.

If we allow Russia to flout these principles with impunity in Europe today, we will set a precedent. As the President of the French Republic recalled at the General Assembly of the United Nations, if one attack is allowed to happen, another will take place elsewhere and nobody will be safe.

The rules-based international order is indeed at stake. Its preservation is key to the Indo-Pacific strategy adopted by France in 2018, along with the protection of global public goods, first and foremost the climate and the environment.

The journey travelled by Prairial and its missions are a perfect illustration of this. It began with a mission to combat illegal fishing for the Pacific Islands Forum. It conducted operations alongside the Philippine Coast Guard and the navy of our strategic partner, Vietnam. Next, it held a training course for the Royal Cambodian Navy, before reaching South Korea via the Taiwan Strait, through which it transited a few days ago, in line with the law of the sea.

For France, the preservation of an Indo-Pacific area that is both free and open, prosperous and respectful of the global commons, involves both respecting the rule of law and seeking the most inclusive cooperation possible with all States.

France is deeply committed to its strategic autonomy, which it uses to benefit the autonomy of other States, taking an approach based on partnership between responsible powers, which are committed to stability and the rule of law. Our aim, in the words of President Macron, is for all States to have freedom over their sovereignty.

That is the focus of our strategic partnership with India, which marks its 25th year this year. That is also the aim of the strategic partnership that we are building, brick by brick, with Indonesia. And, it is behind the cooperation we seek with Japan, in the framework of our exceptional partnership. We also hope to do so with the Republic of Korea, and I commend its ambition for the Indo-Pacific, which we fully share.

We are deeply committed to the preservation of peace and stability in the region. This is true in the face of maritime tensions in the area, and it is true at the borders with our Indian strategic partner, and in the case of Taiwan. On that issue, as President Macron reiterated, France’s policy remains unchanged, it is maintaining the status quo. We are opposed to any unilateral change to the status quo, and any use of force in the Strait. This is also the position of all our European allies, as well as the United States.

Speaking of Europe, this is an opportunity to recall here in this part of the world, as we did last week in China, that France’s ambition is to play a leading role to serve a powerful Europe that embodies a model and vision of its own.

This is particularly true in the Indo-Pacific.

In this area, France has worked to ensure that the European Union has an ambitious strategy which consists in 1/ building the capacities of its partners; 2/ developing equitable trade relations; 3/ supporting projects that meet the highest standards and do not create any dependencies; 4/ lastly, promoting universal values, because universal values do indeed exist.

Our firm belief is that the European Union brings its own added value to the Indo-Pacific, through a multidimensional approach that goes beyond security alone. This comprehensive approach is the only one that can enhance the region’s resilience to the security challenges, as well as the environmental, economic and social challenges we are facing.

This is the goal of the EU’s Global Gateway initiative, which should accelerate the ecological, energy and digital transitions of partner countries, while improving connectivity with Europe.

In this context, France, and, I believe, the European Union, clearly wish to maintain a balanced approach regarding China. This means not being naïve as to the systemic rivalry and competition aspects, and therefore rigorously defending its strategic interests, but with the goal of achieving a constructive, cooperative relationship wherever possible. That is Europe’s triptych regarding China, and it remains relevant even as the country increasingly establishes itself.

Because how can we envisage solving the great global challenges without China? We cannot do it without China, for example with regard to the climate and health, but also more generally. How can we progress without seeking to build a positive agenda with China, without looking for convergences of views, including – and perhaps even especially – on matters where we may disagree? With China, we want dialogue which is rigorous, frank and direct, but open.

This European strategy in the Indo-Pacific, which rejects any bloc confrontation mentality, strongly converges with the approach of the Republic of Korea and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, which also takes an inclusive, cooperative approach. Following our accession to ASEAN development partner status, and ADMM-Plus observer status in 2022, we are determined to step up our cooperation with this central organization in the Indo-Pacific.

Our strategy is also fully aligned with the 2050 Strategy of the Pacific Islands Forum, to which the French territories of New Caledonia and Polynesia belong. We have increased our intervention capacities in the South Pacific by 250% this year, specifically to address the priorities of the Forum in the fight against climate change and environmental protection. And this is only the beginning. Alongside our Australian partner in particular, we are working on a new bilateral roadmap, in which the Pacific will be the central focus.

I am delighted that the Republic of Korea is also prioritizing its cooperation with ASEAN and the Pacific Islands Forum, as part of its strategy “for a free, peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region”. I find the strong convergences between our approaches, which I noticed during my meetings with the Korean authorities yesterday, quite striking. One of the goals of my trip is to identify, with the Korean authorities, how we can coordinate our efforts by drawing on these convergences, and even carry out joint projects.

As you can see, despite the return of war to Europe, France is more aware than ever that its future and that of the European Union will largely play out in the Indo-Pacific region. And France is more determined than ever to ensure that its singular voice carries to this region, to work to appease regional tensions, preserve stability, promote universal values and cooperate to tackle the major global challenges.

Long live France, long live the Republic of Korea, and long live Franco-Korean friendship.

Originally published at https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/country-files/south-korea/news/article/speech-by-catherine-colonna-delivered-on-board-the-surveillance-frigate

The post Speech by Catherine Colonna delivered on board the surveillance frigate Prairial (15 April 2023) first appeared on Amsterdam Aesthetics.

France - Amsterdam Aesthetics originally published at France - Amsterdam Aesthetics