Brussels (Brussels Morning) Australian media today published what appear to be messages sent by France’s President Emmanuel Macron to Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison just days before Canberra entered the AUKUS pact and cancelled its procurement order for a fleet of attack submarines from the French Naval Group.
France accused Australia of betrayal, claiming it had received no forewarning that its submarine deal would be cancelled until the very day that the pact between Australia, the UK and the US was announced, a key part of which was to jointly produce nuclear-powered submarines without French input.
Paris withdrew its ambassador from Canberra, and Macron went as far as stating that Morrison had lied to him, telling the reporters at the G20 summit in Rome that he did not merely think, but actually knew that Morrison lied.
Australian media published messages Macron supposedly sent to Morrison two days before the AUKUS pact was announced, which refer to the submarine deal, and appear to corroborate a part of Morrison’s side of the story.
According to Australian government insiders, Morrison attempted to call Macron two days ahead of the pact’s announcement, but Macron refused the call. Soon after, he sent him a message, saying “Should I expect good or bad news for our joint submarine ambitions?”
The messages, reportedly direct exchanges between Morrison and Macron, are thought most likely to have been leaked by the Australian PM himself, in a bid to clear his name. Of interest is the fact that the media had not received – or chose not to publish – Morrison’s response to Macron’s good news/bad news question. This leaves open the possibility that Macron was indeed left in the dark during the ensuing two days.