By Hanif Ghaffari

Who exactly is the Addressee of the Elysee?

May 16, 2018 - 9:55

TEHRAN - Recently, French Finance Minister has challenged US President Donald Trump's policies towards the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in his stormy remarks. Bruno Le Maire has emphasized that Paris is seeking waivers and longer transition periods from the United States for companies such as Renault and Total (in Iran), as the region scrambles to save the 2015 accord and billions of dollars in trade.

But the highlight of the speech of the French Finance Minister was where he challenged the macroeconomic policies of European countries towards the United States, and pressed for European Union measures to improve the bloc’s “economic sovereignty” in the longer term:

 “We have to work among ourselves in Europe to defend our European economic sovereignty,” Le Maire said, adding that Europe could use the same instruments as the US to defend its interests. Speaking on Europe 1 he added: “Do we want to be a vassal that obeys and jumps to attention?”

He then stated: “It’s time that European countries opened their eyes … The second avenue is looking at Europe’s financial independence – what can we do to give Europe more financial tools allowing it to be independent from the United States? One proposal is to set up a purely European finance house to oversee euro-denominated transactions with Iran." He also proposed a European agency capable of following the activities of foreign companies.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also toughened the French government’s tone:

“We’re telling the Americans that it’s their business what sanctions they impose, but we consider the extraterritoriality of these measures unacceptable,” Le Drian said. “Europeans should not have to pay for U.S. withdrawal from an agreement.”

Without any doubts, the remarks of the Immanuel Macron's Finance and Foreign Ministers are true. Europe's lack of economic independence (even after the formation of the European Union), and the dependence of the European economic structure on the United States led to the annoyance of many European citizens. But despite the accuracy of Bruno Le Maire's words, it seems that it was too late for this speech to be delivered!

Perhaps it would have been better if the French Finance Minister delivered his speech in August 2017, and addressed the young president of the country, Emmanuel Macron, an inexperienced politician who, by accepting all the tricky and illegal demands of Trump on the nuclear deal, including agreeing to limit Iran's missile and regional capabilities, and continuing Iran's nuclear sanctions after 2025, tried to becomes the White House main partner in this regard. Undoubtedly, Iranians can't close their eyes on Macron's hidden and obvious actions and deals with the American authorities. At the moment, French officials are talking about reconsidering their economic structure. However, it seems that the French Finance Minister should name Emanuel Macron as the main accuser in this situation! Today the United Europe has become virtually the US economic piece in the international system, and most of the economic relations in the private and semi-private sectors of these countries are determined by the actions of Washington. The reason for this disaster is quite clear: The negligence of politicians such as Nicolas Sarkozy, Francois Hollande, and subsequently Emanuel Macron, has had a significant impact on the formation of this equation. French presidents (especially after Jacques Chirac's presidency) have always tried to strive more than other European politicians to approach the United States. In such a case, the statements made by the French Minister of Finance can't be regarded as the true position of the Elysee Palace authorities.

Of course, these words could be a good starting point for a profound and real economic transformation in the European Union. But this huge change will not be realized until the current economic-political linkages between the European and Washington authorities exist. At this time and as a result of the new U.S. sanctions, companies worldwide should stop doing business with Iran or risk U.S. fines or other punishment. The sanctions will not only ban U.S. companies from doing business with Iran, but they also will hurt European and other companies by prohibiting them from using American banks unless they cut links with Iran.

It should be noted that French President Emmanuel Macron is to blame as the second accuser for the cancellation of the nuclear agreement. Although many analysts of international relations today are blaming the United States for its withdrawal from the JCPOA, the French President's dissatisfaction with the White House is for another reason! Emanuel Macron was the first European politician who has formally promised Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu to "change the JCPOA" through the inclusion of Iran's missile power and …. The French president pledged to play the pioneering role among the European troika members in this direction. In between, the British authorities who had traditionally been the US pieces in realizing American officials' demands, accepted that this time France would take this role. In the next step, Macron was able to convince the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to "change the nuclear deal" in the secret and frequent meetings he and his foreign minister, Le Drian, had with German authorities. In general, European officials have never been involved in the realization of nuclear agreement as an "active" player. They always emphasized the need to "maintain the nuclear accord", but no action ever accompanied their words, and France was no exception to this rule. On the one hand, Macron insisted on maintaining the nuclear deal with Iran, and on the other hand, agreed to include all of the Trump's four proposed changes in the context of the nuclear agreement, under the name of a complementary or secondary agreement.

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