France, don't rule the seas
Stay in Paris, monsieur
As you know, historically, Britain was supposed to rule the seas. So it is said: “Rule, Britain, the seas! - Rule, Britannia! " France, with all its great rulers, starting either from Napoleon, or, in general, from Louis XIV, had to constantly lose overseas territories.
However, until now, under its control, direct or indirect, a lot remains almost on all oceans. So, in general, under the jurisdiction of Paris, moreover, from very ancient times, up to five republics and two empires - about a third of the entire Pacific area.
At the end of July 2021, French President Emmanuel Macron visited the Pacific French Polynesia. His semi-official visit was aimed not only at settling the consequences of the Paris nuclear tests in this department of France, carried out over a quarter of the last century - in the 60s - 80s.
The current head of the Fifth Republic is impatient to break out into the leaders of the European Union, which is connected with Brexit and with the departure of the long-term German Chancellor Angela Merkel from the big political scene. From this point of view, the local task of strengthening the French positions in the Pacific region is acquiring noticeable features of globalization.
E. Macron is clearly preparing the formation of a kind of interregional "pro-French" community, alternative to the "Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation" (APEC), in which France is not allowed to this day ... And this, despite the fact that France has almost half of all islands in the South and Central Pacific.
But the growing military and political activity of France in the Pacific is due not only to this fact. But also the fact that it is the large French territories in this basin - French Polynesia and New Caledonia - that have long been included in the list of non-self-governing territories compiled by the UN.
It is characteristic that other overseas territories of Paris are somewhere outside this list. Back in the 1960s, General de Gaulle, long-term president of post-war France, proposed creating an association of the Pacific countries, with the participation of all countries of such a vast region.
Moreover, it was proposed, within the framework of such an association, the official recognition of the inviolability of land and sea borders by all countries of the region. Which, of course, would initially make the territorial claims of Japan to a number of islands of the USSR-Russia (South Kuriles), China (Daoyu Dao), Korea (Dokdo) illegitimate.
But the United States and its regional allies (Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Korea, Taiwan), for obvious reasons, initially obstructed this project. And then, by the end of the 80s, they initiated the creation of APEC (1989), outside of which not only "Pacific" France remains to this day.
Others were cheated too ...
In addition to powerful France, all the island countries of the basin, Cambodia, Laos (by the way, the former protectorates of Paris), the Republic of East Timor are still outside APEC. Outside APEC and located on the east coast of the Pacific Ocean are Central American Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama, Honduras, Costa Rica, South American Colombia, Ecuador.
The presence of Panama is especially characteristic in this list of "refuseniks", although it is the Panama Canal that connects the Atlantic with the Pacific Ocean ... It is also characteristic that the USSR was never admitted to APEC, and Russia was "admitted" to this structure only in 1998.
Several years ago, Paris supported the proposals of all eleven island countries in the region on the desirability of including all Pacific countries in APEC. But these initiatives continue to lack support in the United States and its regional allies.
This is happening, which is not even worth doubting, because of fears that the accession of the island and other mentioned countries to APEC, including France, can shake the foreign policy and foreign economic "monopoly" of the United States in the Pacific basin.
Strengthening the position of Paris in the region was facilitated by the results of the referendum in French New Caledonia in October 2020, where the majority of the population spoke out in favor of maintaining the French status of this archipelago. Moreover, despite the long-standing support of anti-French separatism, not only here, but also in other foreign territories of Paris (France does not scatter its fragments).
The claims of Emmanuel Macron for the role of the new Napoleon or De Gaulle, even among the majority of the French, cause nothing but irony. Nevertheless, his visit to French Polynesia, according to many experts, is a kind of "signal" from Paris about the resuscitation of the above-mentioned De Gaulle Pacific project.
More precisely, in the current situation we are talking about a project of a regional political and economic bloc, which includes France with its Pacific territories and all other countries of the region that are not participating in APEC. In this regard, the growing activity of the Fifth Republic in the region was noted, for example, on March 4, 2021, by the Japanese "Nihon Keizai" (Tokyo):
And already at the end of June, Heifar-Wake, large-scale military maneuvers of France, were held in the Pacific Basin. Moreover, these were the maneuvers of the Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace (French air and space forces). According to AirCargoNews dated June 21, 2021, these exercises showed that Paris
Where is Pacific and where is the Indian Ocean
Confirmation of Paris' Pacific ambitions is the fact that a similar block plan of France is already being implemented in the Indian Ocean basin. Recall, again, historically France made its way to Asia, especially Southeast, rather through the Indian Ocean.
And in the spring of 1984, at the initiative of France, the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) was established. It includes three French island territories in the southwestern sector of this basin (Mayotte, Reunion, Eparse), ex-French Madagascar, the Republic of the Comoros, as well as Mauritius and the Republic of the Seychelles.
Nowadays, it is planned to enter in the coming years into this political and economic bloc of the "French Southern Territory" (Kerguelen Islands, Saint-Paul, Crozet, Amsterdam in the south of the Indian Ocean), Mozambique, the East African Republic of Djibouti (ex-French part of Somalia) ...
At the KIO conference in Saint-Denis (French Réunion) at the end of October 2019 on regional integration, E. Macron described the interoceanic plans of France as follows:
Accordingly, the policy of Paris is based on the fact that
Therefore, the main task is, according to Macron,
In the context of these statements, it is obvious that an alternative to APEC, a pro-French Pacific bloc, is planned to dock in some form with the Indian Ocean Commission.
The policy of ousting France from the region has been applied by Washington since the beginning of World War II. Thus, US President F.D. Roosevelt at the Cairo Conference (held on November 22-26, 1943 with the participation of Churchill and Chiang Kai-shek) noted that
In early 1945, the United States occupied the French East Pacific Clipperton, but de Gaulle's readiness to go to a military conflict with Washington over Clipperton forced the Americans to evacuate this island. But all this did not prevent the Americans from using the military bases and economic resources of Pacific France both in the war and in the early post-war years.
- Alexey Chichkin, Alexey Podymov
- from the authors' archive, diplomatie.gouv.fr, rfi.fr, depo.ua
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