Jean-Yves Le Drian: Pandemic threatens multilateral world order

The global response to the coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating threats to the multilateral world order, said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

These fractures “have been undermining the international order for years,” he told Le Monde, calling the COVID-19 outbreak “a continuation, by other means, of the struggle between powers.”

“I read and hear that the world after [the pandemic] would have nothing to do with the world before,” Le Drian said, adding: “I share this wish, but … my fear is that the world after will look like the world before, only worse.”

The minister said the response to the pandemic has created a “challenge to multilateralism,” invoking as examples President Donald Trump’s move to cut funding for the WHO and disagreements over China’s role in the global power play.

“Major players are disengaging, as illustrated by the American decision to suspend its contribution to the World Health Organization, even though it is the only universal organization capable of fighting the pandemic,” he said. “This struggle is also the systematization of the balance of power that we saw mounting long before, with the exacerbation of the Sino-American rivalry.”

Asked whether fights over the role of China in the world could mar international relations, Le Drian said that the European Commission views China as “both a partner and systemic rival,” while the U.S. “is a great power that seems hesitant to play its leadership role in the world.”

He said the U.S. withdrawal as global leader made it “difficult to take collective action on the major challenges facing humanity” and that China’s support is needed, too.

“I am thinking, for example, of the implementation of the Paris climate agreement. This can only happen if China respects the European Union as such,” he said.

Relying on allies would not be enough for Europe, however, Le Drian said. “What is at stake for Europe is to exercise its sovereignty and find a destiny of leadership.”

Source: Politico EU

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