Tirelessly, he insisted on notions of territorial integrity, respect for borders and defense of sovereignty to better emphasize that Russia "says it is ready to work in a new international order" by trampling on these essential principles which until now, despite breaches on the Western side ("we were wrong to have taken liberties with these values"), have constituted the foundation for an international order.
He then delivered his key message, namely the refusal of a "new world partition", a sham that would be disastrous for the handling of tangible problems: "Our shared responsibility is to work to help the most vulnerable, those most affected by all these challenges. As Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, rightly said: today’s era is not an era of war. Nor is it one of revenge on the West, or Western opposition to the rest of the world. It is an era for sovereign, equal countries to work together on today's challenges. That is why we must urgently create a new contract between North and South, an effective, respectful contract on food, climate and biodiversity, and education." Stressing his point with a pinch of controversy, the President added: "Who remained present during the pandemic? Who is proposing financing for the climate transition? Not those who are today proposing a new international order, who did not have a working vaccine, who showed little solidarity, and who are taking no climate action".
This speech was remarkable for it was "tailored" to an audience and a message, it appealed to both the principles and the true interests of the South, and it offered a prospect: ad hoc coalitions to advance solutions regarding the main defining challenges to the future of humanity. In that respect, the President mentioned the Paris Peace Forum (of which the Institut Montaigne is a founding member and whose session this year should be of particular importance). This speech is also the product of a new line of thinking on the part of Emmanuel Macron initiated when, for example, he denounced Russia's fraud with regard to Southern countries when he visited Cameroon, Benin, and Guinea-Bissau at the end of July. The French President is truly committed to efficiently managing global issues, and probably sensed better than others the danger of East-South conjunction (although he had apparently not measured the impact his dialogue with Russia would have on his standing in Europe). One might wonder if his address came at a most opportune moment.
A change in the air?
Winds of change might be shifting Russia's relations with the Global South. The July 22 deal between Russia and Ukraine, signed under UN auspices and allowing exports of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea, until then blocked by Russia, hints at that. Such a concession is not natural to Russian diplomacy. Vladimir Putin may have sensed that his blackmail on wheat was beginning to backfire. More recently, just before the General Assembly, a near-unanimous vote allowed Mr. Zelensky to give a virtual speech at the United Nations, despite Russia's opposition.
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