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Foreign Minister outlines major changes to French diplomacy

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Foreign policy – Hearing of Mme. Catherine Colonna, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, before the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces Committee

Indo-Pacific region

We’re also very active in the Indo-Pacific region.

I think I can say that contacts with the countries of the region have never been so intense, because the war in Ukraine in no way distracts us from the issues at stake in the region, which is essential for our economic and security interests and has been the focus of a real French strategy since 2018.

Indeed, the two are closely linked. We’re seeking to ensure that those Indo-Pacific countries which maintain good relations with Russia dedicate themselves more to the search for a solution to the Ukraine war that respects international law, starting with China and India. We’re also seeking to develop our presence and our relations with those countries, so that they won’t be dealing with just one partner and will have freedom of choice. We’ve also just held a meeting of the foreign ministers of the 27 [EU countries] and the Indo-Pacific countries, in Stockholm under the Swedish presidency.

And we’re conducting sovereignty missions in the Indo-Pacific to uphold respect for international law there, beginning with freedom of navigation, as was done only recently by one of our frigates, on which I travelled to Korea after it crossed the Taiwan Strait. We’re also strengthening our strategic partnerships there, with India, Japan, Indonesia and others.

The core of our approach is not to propose a third way, as I sometimes hear. We’re not equidistant between the United States, our oldest ally, and China. But we reject the establishment of a confrontation process between blocs, because it would fuel tensions and increase the risk of escalation. Our goal is to strengthen all our partners’ freedom of choice and resilience, just as we’re strengthening our own strategic autonomy – France’s and the European Union’s.

That brings me to the second major transformation the Ministry intends to carry out: it consists in resolutely tackling our sphere of influence, which has been set as a priority for us with regard to the State’s international action.

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