– Public Senate

During her hearing by the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Catherine Colonna gave a presentation on French diplomatic doctrine. A vision articulated around four points according to Catherine Colonna: “A more reactive diplomacy, deploying a diplomacy of influence, taking global turns and more proximity”. In this perspective, Catherine Colonna is delighted to have obtained an increase in jobs and “an increase in loans of just over 20% to reach 7.9 billion euros in 2027. We have a reinforced Quai d’Orsay with a diplomacy that finally has the human and financial resources to match its ambitions, the quai d’Orsay joins this movement of rearmament, of strengthening the sovereign”. A conception of French diplomacy supposed to respond to “a world in perpetual motion”, even though the French capacities to weigh in negotiations and in the resolution of international crises, seem to be declining.

“France is committed to supporting a lasting peace and to seeking an easing of sanctions”

Faced with the war in Ukraine, but also faced with the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Catherine Colonna affirms her desire to develop a French diplomacy capable of weighing and embodying a power of balance. A logic that overlaps with that of the President of the Republic when he declared, during his official visit to China, that we should not “be followers” ​​and “adapt to the American rhythm and to a Chinese overreaction”. “Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to China played a big role in Xi Jinping’s appeal to President Zelensky,” explains Catherine Colonna. A position which is intended to be central, of compromise and of solution, but which must necessarily settle certain dilemmas, at the risk of creating difficulties with its own allies. France’s military aid may have been perceived as too weak by its allies, even though Catherine Colonna wanted to be reassuring by asserting that “there was no taboo, no decision has been taken, no decision is unimaginable”.

A role of facilitating the negotiation process that France also wishes to play in Nagorno-Karabakh. “I went to both countries with a clear message. France is committed to supporting a lasting peace and to seeking an easing of sanctions and a resumption of negotiations for the benefit of their populations,” said Catherine Colonna. Two States, close to Europe, on which France and the European Union can effectively hope to exert an influence, whether for cultural reasons or for energy supply. It is clear that this influence, which is essential for influencing the resolution of international conflicts, cannot be exercised equally across the globe.

“We are trying to get countries in the Indo-Pacific region to get more involved in the peace negotiations”

By seeking “appeasement” or by wishing for “respect for international law” French diplomacy does not really achieve a doctrinal reversal. French diplomacy is therefore ardently seeking to exert its influence, as Catherine Colonna explains: “We are seeking to obtain from the countries of the Indo-Pacific zone, close to Russia, that they get involved a little more in the negotiations for the peace “. One of the levers of this French search for influence could be financial. “France is now the world’s fourth largest provider of development aid,” said Catherine Colonna. A strategy of influence aimed at countering “an anti-French discourse contrary to the truth, very strong in Africa”. This loss of influence is also observed in the Near and Middle East where the Syrian dictator, Bashar El-Assad, “is now invited to join the top of the Arab League”, recalls Catherine Colonna.

“The Khartoum evacuation operation itself was very complicated”

A capacity for international influence which must be based on operational efficiency, in the contexts of crisis that the minister identifies in “the successful evacuation of our nationals in Sudan”. In the grip of a coup and clashes between two enemy factions, France organized the repatriation of a large part of the diplomatic personnel present in Sudan. “The Khartoum evacuation operation itself was very complicated, but in total we evacuated more than 1,000 people, including just over 200 French people, three-quarters of whom were foreigners from different countries”.

Catherine Colonna also wanted to place French diplomacy and its ability to influence international crises in positive news by relying on the release of Benjamin Brière and Bernard Phelan, detained in Iran until May 12. If this release is presented as a success, four French citizens remain detained in Iran and, in all, 35 nationals of the European Union. On a related subject, the conditions of the kidnapping of Olivier Dubois (French journalist held hostage in Mali between 2011 and March 2023) and the role played by the French army were not mentioned. A survey of Liberation, Le Monde, RFI and TV5 Monde reveals how the French army used the journalist without his knowledge to arrest a jihadist leader.

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