By N. Peter Kramer
Angela Merkel is no longer the undisputed leader of the EU 28. She looks old and tired, lacking energy to play her role as she did before and has clearly been overruled by an energetic young man: Emmanuel Macron, President of France. He used all the chances that the G7 summit in Biarritz last weekend offered him and he is the winner.
It started with Russia President Vladimir Putin’s visit to the French Presidential holiday castle Bregancon the day before the G7. The result was that, a day later, Macron called for the EU to re-visit EU Russia relations. He spoke of being afraid of more frozen conflicts in Europe: ‘Europe will never be stable unless we sort out our relations with Russia’.
Therefore, in September, France will host a summit of Merkel, Putin and Ukraine’s president Zelenskiy. Pushing Russia further away from the EU would be a mistake in Macron’s view. He worries that Moscow will ally more closely with China, whom he regards as the real ‘enemy’ of the EU since he saw China and Russia coming closer together over summer than they have done in decades.
Macron is also aware of the growing cooperation between Putin and Erdogan, the Turkish President. Recently US President Trump refused to deliver the 100 F-35 fighterjets ordered by Turkey; however, no problem, last week during the air-show in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow, a deal was made for Russia to deliver the substitute Sikhoy Su-57.
This deal came on top of Erdogan’s decision to buy the Russian S-400 missile defence system when Turkey was barred by the US from adopting a rival American system. It means an unravelling of NATO’s power in Europe; a glass will being raised to that in the Kremlin.
We all remember this summer that the struggle for the 5 EU top jobs was managed strongly by the French President. An EU star is born. Europhiles and the mainstream media are happy. But sadly, the French people are not convinced by their President. Last May, more of them voted for the extreme-right party of Marine Le Pen than for the President’s party….