Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called France an “important partner” for Australia, promising to open a “new chapter” in relations between the two countries.
Mr Albanese appeared next to French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of a bilateral meeting between the two leaders at the Élysée Palace that the prime minister hopes will put Franco-Australian relations back on track after they soured sharply last year. .
Then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison backed out of a deal with French firm Naval Group in favor of acquiring .
“France will be an important partner in achieving Australia’s new goals,” said Mr Albanese, who is currently in Paris.
“Australia and France look forward to expanding other areas of exchange and are opening a new chapter in our relationship.
“Today, I am proud to stand by President Macron as we strive to deepen our cooperation on defense and security, climate resilience, and education and culture.”
Mr. Albanese said he recognizes that France is not only a “great European power” but also an “Indo-Pacific and global power.”
“I know that France’s active involvement in the Indo-Pacific will be critical to overcoming the challenges our region is facing,” he said.
He said that Australia and France “share a strong commitment to more ambitious action on climate change and the clean energy transition.”
In addition to the failed submarine deal, Mr Albanese and Mr Macron are expected to discuss the free trade deal Australia is seeking for Europe.
What happened between Scott Morrison and Emmanuel Macron?
Diplomatic relations between Canberra and Paris were put to the test last year when Mr Morrison announced that Australia would conclude a security pact with the United States and Britain (AUKUS) and buy nuclear submarines.
Australia has already secured a contract with the French firm Naval Group, which supplied conventional submarines worth $90 billion.
Mr Macron accused Mr Morrison of lying about the deal.
Asked by reporters if he believes Mr Morrison lied about dialogue with the US and UK over the deal, Mr Macron replied: “I don’t think so, I know.”
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called the move a “stab in the back” and temporarily recalled French ambassadors to Australia and the United States.
Mr Morrison denied lying about the deal and said there weren’t enough contract submarines.
“It was very clear to me that conventional submarines would not be able to satisfy our strategic interests, and that we would need to make a decision in our national interest,” Morrison said.
Mr Morrison failed to restore relations with Paris before the end of his term as Prime Minister. At the end of the 2022 Australian federal election, Mr Le Drian said: “I can’t help but say that Morrison’s defeat suits me very well.”
He added that Mr. Morrison’s handling of the submarine deal showed “cruelty and cynicism, and I would even be tempted to speak of sheer incompetence.”
Shortly after he became prime minister, Mr. Albanese announced that Australia would pay the Naval Group about $830 million to settle a canceled defense contract.
Mr Albanese said he had a “warm” and “constructive” conversation with Mr Macron after his election and has been adamant about rebuilding relations between the two countries ever since.