The submarine crisis is an old memory. In September 2021, Sydney cancelled the contract of the century at the last minute. It was a 56 billion euro contract for the delivery of twelve French submarines. Australia finally did an about-face and signed a contract with the United States. Relations between France and Australia had become very bad.
Paris recalled its ambassador to demand an explanation. French President Emmanuel Macron even called the then Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrisson, a “liar”. Relations are much better since the arrival in power of the new Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese.
On December 4 and 5, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna visited Cambera at the invitation of her Australian counterpart, Penny Wong.The two countries signed a contract of sorts.It covers defense, security and the fight against climate change, as well as education and culture.
The two countries have decided to create a Franco-Australian Center of Excellence for the Indo-Pacific region.This organization will aim to strengthen ties and cooperation between the two countries in the region. There will also be academic exchanges and collaboration between experts.According to diplomats from both countries, energy transition will be one of the key areas of collaboration.Technological and academic knowledge in this field would be pooled to support all initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Australia and New Caledonia may be paradises on earth, but per capita pollution is also very high…
The agreement also addresses the issue of critical minerals.Critical minerals include lithium, copper, nickel, cobalt and rare earths.These resources are essential to the development of new technologies. France and Australia are committed to securing their supply.
Strengthening defense exchanges
Defense is perhaps the most important aspect of the agreement.The two countries provide for mutual access to each other’s military facilities in the region.Both countries will strengthen their military cooperation.On December 6 and 7, the South Pacific Defense Ministers’ Summit will be held in Nouméa. It will bring together the defense ministers of the countries in the region.
Cooperation in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean
Another fundamental point of this agreement concerns scientific research activities, notably on climate. Space activities are also part of the agreement. We can imagine that in this field, the potential is enormous… as are the economic ulterior motives.
As is often the case with this type of agreement, there will be a cultural aspect. Both countries are committed to developing their cultural ties. In particular, a Foundation will be created.
The archives of French navigator Antoine Bruny d’Entrecasteaux’s expedition to Tasmania in the late 18th century will be digitized and translated. The Tasmanian Aboriginal community will be consulted.
The two countries also promise to exchange know-how in the organization of major sporting events (infrastructure, security, transport, etc.). France has just organized the Rugby World Cup and is preparing to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games next July. Australia will host the same events in 2027 and 2032.
The Indo-Pacific Axis against China
The friendship between the land of the Eiffel Tower and that of the kangaroos is not enough to explain this enthusiasm. Of course, the backdrop to this agreement is the fight against Chinese hegemony in the region.
On the left, Catherine Colonna, French Minister of Foreign Affairs. On the right, her Australian counterpart, Penny Wong.