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French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference in Paris French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference on the situation in Lebanon, in Paris, Sept. 27, 2020 (AP photo by Lewis Joly).

For Macron, Being Right on European Strategic Autonomy Isn’t Enough

Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020

It’s been a busy few months for Emmanuel Macron. The French president has taken the lead in seeking to resolve a range of crises and conflicts within Europe and on its borders and periphery. That has put Macron where he clearly likes to be: center stage and in the spotlight. But in so doing, he has once again created opposition and resentment within Europe, while underlining the limits to his ability to achieve his desired outcomes.

Macron’s diplomatic hot streak began at the European Union summit in late July, when he helped push through the EU’s groundbreaking collective debt mechanism to fund pandemic relief packages. Then, in early August, he flew to Lebanon to publicly pressure its leaders to implement long-needed reforms in the immediate aftermath of the Beirut port explosion. He subsequently engaged in a very public war of words with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over Ankara’s brinksmanship in the Eastern Mediterranean. And this week, he visited Lithuania and Estonia, both EU and NATO members, as part of a trip meant to assuage their misgivings over his recent outreach to Russia. ...

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