Macron vows 'independent, respected' France in new military blueprint

Nuclear deterrence and closer ties with UK and Germany at heart of new strategy

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech from a helicopter carrier. EPA
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French President Emmanuel Macron unveiled a new military blueprint on Wednesday, vowing to make France an “independent, respected and agile power” with nuclear deterrence at the heart of its strategy.

Speaking on board a French helicopter carrier, Mr Macron set his sights on closer military ties with Germany and Britain despite recent friction with both countries.

His speech brought a formal end to France's military mission to fight religious extremists in Africa, where he said France would rethink its operations.

France's 60-page document is the latest military blueprint to be rewritten since Russia invaded Ukraine, after Nato updated its strategic compass in June.

The document set 10 goals for 2030 including “first-rate” cyber defences and a “robust and credible” nuclear deterrent.

France is the only member of the European Union, and one of three Nato members along with the US and UK, that maintains its own nuclear weapons.

“Our nuclear forces contribute through their own existence to the security of France and Europe,” Mr Macron said.

Returning to a favourite theme, Mr Macron said France should be a key player in what he calls “European strategic autonomy”, meaning less reliance on the US and other partners.

But the strategy paper said Nato membership “remains essential” for French and European security.

Mr Macron on the deck of the warship in the naval base of Toulon, southern France. AFP

Mr Macron called for raising military ties with Britain “to another level”, amid signs of a UK-France detente after he met Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the Cop27 summit.

The two leaders promised to work together after years of friction linked to English Channel migration and post-Brexit trade and fishing rights.

“I hope that we will actively resume our dialogue on operations, capacities, nuclear and hybrid areas and renew the ambitions of our two countries as friends and allies,” Mr Macron said.

He also called for deeper military co-operation with Germany, which is seeking to strengthen its military posture after years of underinvestment in the armed forces.

France and Germany have found themselves at odds over the energy crisis arising from the war in Ukraine, pulling in different directions on nuclear power and other issues.

But “the success of the European project depends in large part, I believe, on the balance of our partnership”, Mr Macron said.

“In that regard I hope that we can make decisive progress in the coming weeks,” he said.

Mr Macron said France would enter talks within days on the future of its military bases in Africa.

France withdrew its troops from Mali earlier this year following tensions with the ruling military regime.

“Our military support for African countries in the region will continue, but based on new principles that we will have defined with them,” Mr Macron said.

Updated: November 09, 2022, 4:46 PM