While Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his own customary technique, attempts to take the west off-guard in world affairs, it is safe to say, that he was the one on the receiving end, courtesy of a newcomer to world politics, French President Emanuel Macron.
Macron, a smooth-talking, 39-year old neither left nor right politician, and who was only in the second week of his presidency, let it rip, when he accused Russia Today and Sputnik, both funded by Russia, of spreading falsehoods as part of a propaganda campaign, and called their reporters, ‘journalists who were in fact agents of influence’. This while he was standing next to Putin, in a joint press-conference between the two countries in Versailles.
Macron then, went on further, to lambaste President Bashar al-Assad’s regime supported by friends from Moscow, and he was prepared the use of the French military if there was another use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime, a charge denied by Assad and Putin. Macron also said, France, like Germany, was keeping a close eye on Chechnya, a federal subject of Russia, and its wave of horrific anti-gay violence.
It is safe to say, Macron, has now detached his robe, displaying his super-hero costume underneath. And to think, political analysts were of the opinion, that these talks were in principle, a reboot, to the French-Russian relations after a long-arduous election season, in which Russia directly batted for the far-far right Marine Le-Pen, even inviting her to Moscow, a month before the preliminaries.
Even before this meeting, Macron had shown his ‘balls,’ firstly, with that long and strong handshake with President Trump, which Macron admitted, was a ‘moment of truth’, saying “That’s how you ensure you are respected. You have to show you won’t make small concessions – not even symbolic ones” and then decided to side with his home continent with the ‘swerve’, greeting Chancellor Merkel before anyone else.
To be fair, the future of the Eurozone and the European Union(EU) rests plainly and squarely with the Franco-German relations, a fact reiterated by Macron on his campaign trail and by Merkel saying ‘Europe must now be prepared to take fate into his own hands,’ after the postwar western alliance hit mostly by Brexit and Donald Trump, nearing its end. EU probably will mostly be unaffected by Brexit, considering Britain had its own currency and was a union within the EU, but surely it wouldn’t have survived a Frexit (Exit of France from the EU) as Germany and France are the bond that held the Eurozone together.
India though, has welcomed Merkel’s leadership in uniting the Eurozone, a fact reiterated by Prime Minister Modi during his visit to Germany this week. The Prime Minister praised Merkel’s “strong leadership” and said a EU-focused vision is what the world needed. He also said a global order based on democracy is the need of the hour in an interconnected and interdependent world. Chinese premier Li Keqiang visits Germany after Modi, and the western media were quick to point out this pivot by Germany towards Asia, and a seismic shift towards the two most populated and the fastest growing large economies of the world.
— PIB India (@PIB_India) May 30, 2017
While Europe and America might be drifting, India, is quickly trying to occupy the space left behind by the protectionist policies of Trump, with Modi signing many MOU’s with Germany and Merkel pushing for the coveted free trade deal with India for the EU, a prized catch, also fought for, by the post-Brexit Britain. Though, talks with the EU for this deal was started 10 years back and subsequently stopped over disagreements, particularly on work-flow movement, Merkel has said that they will make a ‘massive effort’ in Brussels to get it going again.
Visa liberalization, that India had demanded for her skilled citizens, can now be agreed upon, with UK which played a key role in opposing these relaxations before, now outside the EU.
Modi, who has moved onto Russia, after a brief stopover in Spain, is expected to sign more MOU’s and meet President Putin, before visiting France at the end of this week, with crucial talks with ‘Superhero’ Macron, in the agenda before he returns back to India. Though, Indo-Russian relations are not at the heights of the old days, it remains a big deal in both countries, particularly economically, a fact reiterated by both leaders in their own editorial pieces in newspapers of the other country.
While American analysts might be reeling in President Trump’s exploits, it is safe to say with Merkel, Macron and the EU, looking East and particularly towards India, in this upcoming century, the world will be dominated by the land of the oldest civilization.