Emmanuel Macron Urges Europe to Shore Up Defenses, Be 'Respected' After Dispute With U.S.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday urged fellow European nations to bolster their defenses and make themselves "respected" in light of its submarine dispute with the U.S., the Associated Press reported.

France recently lost a multi-billion dollar contract to sell diesel-electric submarines to Australia when the U.S. and Britain inked a deal to sell nuclear-powered submarines to the Oceanian nation instead. Macron made the comments at a news conference in Paris, his first time speaking on the diplomatic dispute that spurred France to temporarily recall its ambassador to the U.S.

The U.S. deal with Australia was aimed at upping defense in the Indo-Pacific, where China is growing increasingly assertive. The French president, in response to the measure, pushed other Europeans to "come out of their naivety" and called for increased shows of European strength.

"When we are under pressure,...showing that we also have power and the capacity to defend ourselves...is simply making ourselves be respected," he said during the news conference.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Macron Response to U.S. Dispute
French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday urged fellow European nations to boost their defenses and make themselves "respected" after France's recent diplomatic dispute with the U.S. Above, Macron looks on during the signing of a new defense deal at The Elysee Palace Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021 in Paris. Ludovic Marin/Pool Photo via AP

Ambassador Philippe Etienne will go back to Washington on Wednesday with a "clear mandate," Macron said. He stressed he and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed last week in a phone call to open in-depth consultations aimed at creating the conditions for ensuring confidence between the longtime allies.

Macron said he is to talk again with Biden in mid-October, before a scheduled in-person meeting at the end of next month in Europe.

The United States are "great historical friends and allies in terms of values, but we must see that for more than 10 years the Americans first focus on themselves and have strategic interests reoriented toward China and the Pacific," Macron said.

"We must, as Europeans, take our part in our own protection," he said.

"It is not an alternative to the alliance with the U.S. nor a substitute for it," the president stressed, adding that European defense plans should come in addition to NATO.

Macron spoke Tuesday after France signed a defense deal with Greece, including the purchase by Athens of three warships worth several billion euros.

"The debate on European strategic autonomy has begun to take on real content," Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.

The European Union plans to hold a defense summit next year; France takes over the bloc's rotating presidency in the first half of 2022.

Macron, who is expected to run for reelection in France's April presidential vote, has pushed for the 27-nation trade bloc to develop more EU defense autonomy, notably during the turmoil of the Trump administration.

Stung by the swift collapse of the Afghan army and the chaotic U.S.-led evacuation through Kabul airport, the EU this month unveiled plans to develop its own defense capacities to try to ensure that it has more freedom to act in future crises.

The EU also unveiled earlier this month a new strategy for boosting economic, political and defense ties in the Indo-Pacific area.

Macron Inks New Defense Deal
France and Greece announced on Tuesday a major, multibillion-euro defense deal including Athens' decision to buy three French warships. Above, French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during the signing of the new defense deal at The Elysee Palace Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021 in Paris. Ludovic Marin/Pool Photo via AP