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Fragile agreement between Merkel and Macron on thorny arms exports


The agreement, passed during the G7, leaves French defense actors skeptical as the relations are difficult.

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Before the opening of the G7, Emmanuel Macron meets Angela Merkel, in Biarritz, on August 24th. Jean-Claude Coutausse for Le Monde

Defense subjects, more than ever, are poisoning the Franco-German relationship. Since the beginning of 2019, Paris and Berlin have been trying to redefine their agreement on arms exports. The powerful industries of the two countries are competing fiercely, and the old bilateral agreement of 1971 (called "Debré-Schmidt"), concluded not to interfere in foreign markets, is no longer respected, Germany blocking sales of French war materials on the pretext that they contain German components.

According to the information of the World , Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron co-signed, during the G7, a document of good practices, supposed to solve the problem. The text has not been released yet. He predicts that, below a 20% share of German components in French equipment (Paris wanted less), Berlin is committed not to embarrass his partner if he wants to export. This political agreement also lists customer countries to which there would be no obstacle. But this small step, planned under the new treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle of 22 January and supposed to revive strategic cooperation, seems very fragile.

"The Germans make us difficult on everything, even for rubber seals"

On the French side, the players involved in the defense, industrial and elected sectors, are more than skeptical about improving relations. Criticism of the German partner was unusually frank at the 17th Defense Summer School, a traditional meeting of the sector, held on Thursday 12 and Friday 13 September in Bourges. "I do not believe at all in the effectiveness of such an agreement" , reacted a representative of the industrialists of the land armament, "because everything will be blocked in the Bundestag" . "The Germans make us difficult on everything, absolutely everything, even for innocuous parts like rubber seals," said an industrialist.

"The Germans are perfectly hypocritical"

The subject has been hot since the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018, and the announcement of a suspension of German arms sales in Riyadh, Paris being criticized for continuing to trade with the kingdom. It remains to be seen in detail whether the G7 agreement could allay this dispute. France has several contracts in progress with Saudi Arabia; Deliveries were delayed, especially for armored vehicles whose gearboxes were German - they had to be replaced by American boxes. "The Germans are perfectly hypocritical , accused Friday a source close to the file. The Saudi consortium to buy the country's arms now has a German CEO, and German manufacturers continue to sell in the Gulf, bypassing political bans through subsidiaries and joint ventures, based in South Africa or elsewhere. . "

Source: lemonde

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