Macron highlights his NATO leadership credentials with a map


French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a news conference following a NATO summit, in Brussels, Belgium, March 24, 2022. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

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  • Macron three weeks before the presidential election
  • All smiles, handshakes with world leaders
  • Cautious in his statements as the war in Ukraine escalates

BRUSSELS, March 24 (Reuters) – President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday brought a map to NATO to show all his troops were doing to support the security of his allies and explain how France could be counted on to show solidarity .

Topping the polls just three weeks before a presidential election, the French presidential candidate was able to set aside the background of the French political campaign to focus almost solely on the war in Ukraine and its impact on the global economy.

Macron, who has spared no effort to mediate between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, entered the presidential race just a month before the first round on April 10 and kept the number of campaign events.

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He has come under some criticism in recent days, with some voters saying he focused too much on Ukraine and not enough on France. Read more

But on Thursday, with global attention on an unprecedented summit of NATO’s transatlantic alliance, wealthy G7 nations and European leaders to tackle the continent’s biggest military crisis since the Balkan wars of years 1990, Macron made a point of emphasizing his status as Commander-in-Chief and declared France would adapt to new strategic challenges.

It’s rare for leaders to bring props to demonstrate what they’re doing, but like a professor giving a lecture, Macron turned to a map in a digital slideshow, gesturing with his hand.

“From north to south of NATO’s eastern flank, the map here allows you to see all of our current engagements,” he said, breaking down France’s military activity, from exercises in Norway to its new presence in Romania, including air police missions. in Estonia to the aircraft carrier launching surveillance missions from the eastern Mediterranean.

Macron wanted to send a message. He wouldn’t be rash. Asked by journalists about fears of future use of Russian chemical weapons in Ukraine, he remained cautious.

He would not draw red lines that could not be backed up by action as he had when he ordered airstrikes on Syrian targets in 2018 after an alleged chemical attack.

France’s word depended on it, he said.

Regarding the delivery of arms to Ukraine, his responsibility, he said, was not to deliver tanks and warplanes that would lead to war with Russia, but to continue the existing military support of NATO which was not intended to “wage war”, but to bring about a ceasefire and negotiation.

Macron’s hob has clashed with the leaders. Handshakes, smiles and a warm exchange with Italian Mario Draghi under the gaze of Briton Boris Johnson as they prepared for a NATO family photo.

He leaned down to put his hand on Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s shoulder as the two chatted happily – something unthinkable just a year ago when the two leaders traded beards almost daily.

Asked by a Romanian journalist about the presence of France in his country, Macron smiled, asking that the map be published again.

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Reporting by John Irish Editing by Alexandra Hudson

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