Emmanuel Macron’s express but “geostrategic” visit to Mongolia
French President Emmanuel Macron (center) with Mongolian President Ukhnagin Khurelsükh (right) in the streets of Ulaanbaatar on May 21, 2023. LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP-PH After the honors in the…
After the honors in the central square of Ulan Bator, in the setting sun, the tete à tete takes place in a yurt installed inside the People’s Palace, seat of the government and the Parliament. This is where the President of Mongolia, Ukhnaagiin Khürelsükh, receives Emmanuel Macron, Sunday, May 21, for a visit as short as it is unprecedented, the first of a French president in this landlocked state between Russia and China.
The G7 summit barely completed in Hiroshima (Japan), Mr. Macron intends to make a stop here “geostrategic”, according to his entourage, on the way back to Paris. For the tenant of the Elysée, the recomposition of international power relations, at work in the context of the war in Ukraine, can open diplomatic breaches, which must be explored in this country of 3, 5 million inhabitants, largely desert.
For their part, the Mongolian authorities hope to accentuate their “third neighbor policy”, which pushes them to implement, in order to emerge from the shadow of the two countries that border it, a rapprochement with Europe in the first place, or even the United States, even if these partners seem far away, seen from the steppes which surround the capital. The country saw its trade with China – more than 80% of its trade – very severely disrupted at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, when the borders closed. A real shock for the population. Very dependent on coal, Mongolia also intends to diversify its energy supply, while Russia provides it with more than half of its electricity.
Offer an alternative
The French executive therefore emphasizes the“very important issue” of displacement, fifteen months after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. First of all, it would be “to loosen the constraint exerted on Russia’s neighbors and to open up to them the choice of their options”.
The visit is intended to be in line with the strengthening of relations between Paris and many “other neighbors of Russia” in Central Asia – with the recent visit to Paris of the Uzbek and Kazakh presidents – or in the Caucasus, where France and the Europeans are trying to mediate between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The idea is, incidentally, to offer an alternative, at a time when China is challenging Russia’s declining authority in this part of the world, as shown this week by the Xian summit organized by Beijing with Central Asian states from the former Soviet empire.
More concretely, the visit should make it possible to invigorate cooperation in various fields, starting with the environment and energy. Mongolia is part of the “strategy of diversification of European supplies in order to guarantee our energy sovereignty”underlines the Elysée.
You have 27.6% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.