Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has declared “a new chapter” in Australia’s relationship with France when he was welcomed in Paris by President Emmanuel Macron.
Albanian and his partner Jodie Haydon were greeted warmly at the Elysee Palace on Friday by Macron and his wife Brigitte.
Albanian said Macron’s invitation represented “a new chapter” in the countries’ relationship, which had been severely damaged during Morrison’s administration.
“Australia’s relationship with France is important. Trust, respect and honesty are important,” he said.
“That’s how I’m going to approach my relationships.”
When asked if Albanian should apologize for the canceled submarine deal under the last government, Macron told reporters: “We are talking about the future, not the past. He is not responsible (for) what happened.”
Macron said he was looking forward to working with Albanian.
“All of this marks our willingness to build a relationship based on trust between our two countries, based on mutual respect… but also on a relationship based on strategic and historical partnership,” he said.
“Let me remember that here, because no one in France has forgotten the battle led by tens of thousands of young Australian people who came to fight with us in the trenches…almost a century ago…we will never forget the brotherhood that was born in this common struggle.
“This history now continues with the return of war to the European continent.”
Albanian also said Australia’s relationship with France was important as a global partnership to tackle climate change.
“I lead a new Australian government with a mandate for strong action on climate change. My government wants to be an active part of the global solution and understand that while this is the challenge, it is also an opportunity for economic transformation as well as environmental protection.
“France will be a vital partner in realizing Australia’s new ambitions.
“Australia and France look forward to expanding other areas of exchange and opening a new chapter in our relationship.
“Today I am proud to stand alongside President Macron in our commitment to deepening our cooperation on defense and security, resilience and climate, and education and culture.”
Earlier, Albanian had said he was on a mission to rebuild Australia’s relationship with France to “what it should be”.
It is the first time the two leaders have spoken at this level since the submarine agreement between Australia and France under the Morrison government.
Albanian and Macron spoke privately in Madrid this week on the sidelines of NATO’s special summit.
Ahead of the meeting in France, Albanian would not be interested in apologizing for breaking the submarine deal, instead stating that it is all about the future.
“What I want to do, however, is make sure we can look forward,” he told reporters.
“Look ahead in a way that builds the relationship to what it should be.
“It has to be a relationship where we can rely on each other as we have had it for a long time and in which we can trust each other.”
France is the current president of the European Union, meaning Australia will need the country’s support to sign a free trade agreement with the EU early next year.