French President Emmanuel Macron ruled out today that the allies will reach an agreement on Ukraine’s entry into NATO at the summit to be held in Vilnius next July. “Let’s be frank about it. I don’t think the Vilnius Summit will reach a consensus among the allies on the full integration of Ukraine into the Alliance,” Macron said at the global security conference (GLOBSEC) being held in Bratislava.

For Macron, instead of belonging to NATO, one should talk about solid and global security guarantees, “something halfway between the Alliance and what we have given to Israel.” He explained that he was not referring to “something like the Budapest package, which clearly has not worked, but to tangible and credible security guarantees in a multilateral framework.”

Macron stressed that Ukraine is currently well-equipped militarily, even if the end of the war does not seem foreseeable. For the French president, what is clear is that, in the event of a ceasefire or freezing of the conflict, “time will be on Russia’s side” and that a territorial concession in exchange for peace “would make us all more weak”.

Macron, who said he was as surprised by the Ukrainians’ ability to fight as by Russia’s resilience to sanctions, acknowledged that the awakening of NATO, which he himself declared brain dead a few years ago, was due to the president. Russian, Vladimir Putin.

Asked during question time about the speed with which Putin could be tried for war crimes, Macron replied that it was at the right time, and not only because the legal framework must be clarified and all the evidence must be documented, but because if in In the coming months, a window will open for negotiation. A partner is needed, and today in Putin.

Macron dressed his speech with a Europeanist impetus. He asserted that a European defense structure is “essential” for the bloc’s long-term credibility, albeit within NATO. “One thing does not exclude the other, but” it is up to us, the Europeans, to have our own ability to defend ourselves in the future, “he added.

For this reason, he asked the EU countries to increase their purchases of European defense material in order to strengthen the common industry. “When I see some countries increase their defense spending to buy massively from non-European countries, I tell them: ‘Get ready for tomorrow’s problems,'” Macron said without mentioning Germany. The German decision to buy F-35 stealth planes in the United States had drawn criticism in France. The Bundeswehr wants to use them to replace its aging Tornado fleet.

“We must take advantage of this moment to produce more in Europe, to discuss joint air defense and nuclear deterrence,” Macron stressed, in line with what he has always defended and never caught on due to the reluctance of his neighbors, including Germany.

However, Macron has convened an international conference on the 19th in Paris to address these issues.

Macron took advantage of his time at the forum in Bratislava, with great attendance from the countries of Eastern Europe and the Western Balkans, to launch a ‘mea culpa’ for the scant presence of his country in those regions. “Many think that France is arrogant or that it has turned its back on them, but that is not true and there should be no division between ‘Old Europe’ and ‘New Europe,'” he said, referring to the division created at the time of the war in Iraq. by the United States between the countries that supported the contest and not.

“Some said that the opportunity to remain silent had been lost. I think we too have lost the opportunity to listen to him. This time is over,” Macron said to applause from the audience. He was alluding to a comment made in 2003 by then-French President Jacques Chirac, who said that the Eastern European nations that sided with the United States and Britain in their decision to invade Iraq that year, opposed by some of the major Western allies, including France and Germany, had missed a “good opportunity to keep quiet.”

The comment shocked eastern European countries and contributed to long-standing mistrust among new EU members that resurfaced at the start of the war in Ukraine, dividing supporters of dialogue with Russia and support for Ukraine’s arms defense.

In fact, after the invasion, Eastern EU countries such as Poland criticized Macron for keeping communication channels open with Putin, or for saying that Russia should not be “humiliated” in the course of international efforts to end the conflict. from Ukraine.

Regarding the enlargement of the EU, one of the most recurring issues in a forum with a strong presence of candidate countries, Macron stressed that the EU must be enlarged and renewed at the same time. “You have to invent various formats and define the goal of each of them. It is the only way to meet the legitimate expectations of the Western Balkans, Moldova and Ukraine,” he said.

Less ambiguous was regarding an eventual expansion of NATO in the Pacific. “NATO is an alliance between North Atlantic countries. My answer to enlargement in Asia is no.”

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