In this edition of the CHOICE newsletter, we discuss Central and Eastern European views on Macron's controversial comments on strategic autonomy and present our latest outputs.
Aimed at showcasing the EU unity, Emmanuel Macron and Ursula Von der Leyen’s trip to China instead exposed diverging views on EU’s positioning vis-à-vis the Sino-American rivalry. The French President Macron’s comments on strategic autonomy and unfortunate statements on Taiwan (speaking about the risks of getting “caught up in crises that are not ours”), sparked a heated debate in the EU on the Europe’s approach to China. While the European Council President Charles Michel said that “European leaders are becoming increasingly favorable toward French President Emmanuel Macron’s push for strategic autonomy,” except for Hungary that expressed support for Macron’s vision, this view does not seem to be widely shared among the Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries. In fact, Macron’s remarks on not being ‘vassals’ to Washington were not received well in a number of the region’s capitals.
The Polish PM Mateus Morawiecki could not be clearer in distancing himself from the view of the French president. “Instead of building strategic autonomy from the United States, I propose a strategic partnership with the United States,” he said prior to his visit in the US. During his trip, he gave a speech at the Atlantic Council and appeared live on NBC news. By comparing Ukraine to Taiwan, Morawiecki highlighted his conviction that if Russia wins the current war, China may feel emboldened to attack Taiwan. This has been met with fierce criticism by both the Chinese embassy in Warsaw and Chinese state-affiliated media. Morawiecki also noted that “China will cross the Rubicon if it starts to supply Russia with weapons.” In comparison to Morawiecki’s assertive statements, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau stressed the need to normalize relations in line with the EU’s official China policy triptych (China as partner, competitor, and systemic rival), notes CHOICE Research Fellow Alicja Bachulska.
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