For his first participation in the conference, Emmanuel Macron risks finding himself a little alone in his defense of a “ strong and effective multilateralism In the absence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The Bundestag deputies admittedly approved, on Wednesday, February 12, the project for the future European combat aircraft, a project for 2040.
Six months before the German presidency of the European Union, Germany is nonetheless permanently plunged into a political crisis, unleashed by the extreme right in Thuringia and the announced withdrawal of the president of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) ) Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.
For this first participation, the French President will endeavor, Saturday, February 15, to raise the “Possible misunderstandings” on his vision of security, defense and European foreign policy issues. There is no shortage of subjects, whether it be NATO, relations with Russia, the Sahel, the debate on 5G and Huawei, or even its recent proposal fore “strategic dialogue” with Europeans on the role of French nuclear deterrence in the security of the Old Continent, along with an offer to participate in the exercises.
Emmanuel Macron will also have informal exchanges on Friday, February 14, with the two leaders of the German Greens, Robert Habeck and Annalena Baerbock, then, on Saturday, February 15, with around thirty German officials from all walks of life – political and economic – including the deputy. Christian Democrat Johann Wadephul who recently mentioned enhanced cooperation with France in the area of nuclear deterrence.
A Western world contested from within
In their report, published on the eve of the meeting, the organizers invent a new word: ” Westlessnes To describe a contested western world from the inside and the outside. “ We have lost a common understanding of what it means to belong to the Western world. ” says Wolfgang Ischinger, former ambassador and chairman of the conference. “All of this is happening against the background of the relative rise of the non-Western world and an increasing number of challenges and crises that would require a concerted Western response “.
A nationalist and illiberal camp embodied by Trump and Orban
First observation, so-called liberal democracy, human rights, market economy and multilateral institutions are no longer unanimous in Western countries. A “ nationalist and illiberal camp “, Embodied by its champions – Donald Trump in the United States and Viktor Orban in Hungary – upsets the consensus that prevailed in the post-Cold War era.
In its moderate version, this movement calls for the construction of walls and respect for borders, rejects refugees, politically correct and gender politics. Each in his own way, Donald Trump and Viktor Orban speak of defending traditional family values and national sovereignty against liberal elites, globalists and immigration.
Western countries ceded initiative in crisis management
The second observation is that Western countries have given up the initiative in crisis and conflict management. This is the case in Syria where Russia, Turkey and Iran are maneuvering, faced with a retreating United States and helpless Europeans. As a sign of the times, China, Iran and Russia recently organized their first joint naval exercise in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman. In Libya, Turkey and Russia could overshadow a Europe that is directly affected by instability on the southern shore of the Mediterranean.
Tensions between the five permanent member countries also condemned the UN Security Council to paralysis while Western military superiority was no longer won over Russia and China. Without sufficient support from Western countries, international institutions such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organization (WTO) are threatened with marginalization or instrumentalization by autocratic states.
Very concretely, the authors stress, the divisions between the United States and Europe, and between European countries, have so far prevented a common and coordinated approach to relations with Russia, China and Iran.