Bruised Macron puts on brave face at G7

    WORLD  14 June 2024 - 16:02

    French President Emmanuel Macron smiled and joshed with leaders in the sun-bleached resort of Borgo Egnazia, but there was no hiding that his usual confidence had drained away.

    According to POLITICO, on the sidelines of G7 talks on Ukraine, China and Gaza, Macron told journalists on June 13 evening that his party’s defeat in last Sunday’s EU election had been a personal blow.

    “I’ve been working like a lunatic for seven years so that this country gets better so that the reforms go through,” he said. “Of course, I took it personally.”

    In the immediate aftermath of the defeat, the president called a snap election that triggered dismay within his own camp.

    The far-right National Rally finished first in the European Parliament election in France with 31.4 percent of the vote — more than double the 14.6 percent received by Macron’s party. While the polls ahead of the vote had predicted big wins for the far right, many within Macron’s camp still hoped for a last-minute rallying of centrist voters.

    “Of course I was hit [by the defeat]. So I thought, we must absolutely ask the French again to clarify their choice and show them that we have heard them,” Macron said.

    G7 leaders including U.S. President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida are attending the summit in Puglia, where they agreed to back a $50 billion loan to Ukraine using frozen Russian assets as collateral. The move, several leaders said, was meant to send a strong message of support to Kyiv, even as the political landscape in many G7 countries looks set to shift to the right.

    During a skydiving display at the resort, Macron was seen joking with the U.K.’s Rishi Sunak, who also faces an election in July that polls predict he will lose. Later on Thursday evening, Macron appeared alone at a dinner, hosted by Italian President Sergio Mattarella, which included spouses.

    The French president also pushed back vigorously against any suggestion that France’s support for the G7 loan plan had been upended by his decision to call the snap election. The far-right National Rally, which looks set to get a lot more seats in the French parliament, has been ambivalent on military support for Ukraine.

    “[The other leaders] know our constitution and they know … the responsibilities of the French president on matters of defense and foreign policy, so there are no doubts,” Macron said.

    But in France, while foreign policy is the reserved remit of the president, the parliament votes on budgetary issues, which would include Ukraine support.

    The French president said he had discussed his decision to trigger the early election with fellow leaders. They called it “courageous,” he said.

    While Macron appeared on friendly terms with most of the leaders at the G7, relations appeared a lot cooler between Macron and the summit host, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, whose hard-right party consolidated its position in the European election.

    France and Italy were also at loggerheads in the run-up to the G7 gathering over including a reference to women’s rights in the group’s draft statement. Macron said he “regretted” the decision to water down the language on abortion rights.

     

    Caliber.Az

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