Government expresses solidarity with France, ‘Australia broke commitments’

  • Lusa
  • 21 September 2021

"We expressed our solidarity with France, which was not treated with due respect in this process," the Portuguese foreign minister stated on Monday.

The Portuguese foreign minister told Lusa on Tuesday that Australia had “breached commitments” to France, in a “very questionable” decision, adding that Portugal has already conveyed solidarity with the European country.

Augusto Santos Silva told Lusa news agency at the end of an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in New York that the European bloc had taken a common position of solidarity with France after the trilateral alliance between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, AUKUS (the English initials of the three Anglo-Saxon countries), undid a previous agreement between Australia and France on submarine purchases.

“We expressed our solidarity with France, which was not treated with due respect in this process,” the Portuguese minister said, adding that: “Australia took a questionable decision”.

The Portuguese diplomacy chief on Monday morning had a bilateral meeting with his Australian counterpart Marise Payne in New York during the United Nations (UN) high-level week.

“The Portuguese concern is that these latest events do not disturb the alignment between the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, which seems so necessary for the geopolitical balance in the Indo-Pacific region to be strengthened,” Santos Silva said.

He said the consequences of the AUKUS trilateral alliance, “are plain to see,” at a diplomatic and political level, with “elements of trust that have been lost or weakened by these events.

In relation to the bilateral meeting between Portugal and Australia, the Portuguese minister made an “exchange of views” about this situation with his Australian counterpart and analysed bilateral relations, which he considered to be “excellent”.

The AUKUS pact aims to strengthen trilateral cooperation between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States in advanced defence technologies, such as artificial intelligence, submarine systems and long-distance surveillance.

The pact aims to confront China in the Indo-Pacific region and provides a basis for US nuclear to be purchased by Australia, which has thus unilaterally and unannouncedly pulled out of an older agreement with France.