French President Emmanuel Macron’s interest in attending the upcoming BRICS summit as an observer has raised eyebrows and highlighted a potential rift within the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized economies, according to Koffi Kouakou, a senior research fellow at the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Africa-China Studies. According to him, the move signifies a fracture within the G7 and the Western-led alliance, as countries like France and Germany seek alternative avenues.
The BRICS bloc, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, holds increasing global importance as the world undergoes transformative changes. With a collective GDP accounting for over 40% of the global economy and representing more than half of the world’s population, BRICS has become a focal point for regional heavyweights from the Arab world and the Global South who seek to join the group. Kouakou emphasized that BRICS is united by its vision of a multipolar world, in contrast to the US-promoted “rules-based order.”
Macron’s interest in attending the BRICS summit is seen as an effort to gain firsthand insights into the bloc’s direction. However, breaking free from Washington’s dominance might prove challenging for France. Macron’s previous statements, suggesting the need for European strategic autonomy and advocating against being a US “vassal” in the standoff with China, have already strained relations with the US.
According to Kouakou, Macron’s proposal to attend the summit reflects France’s eagerness to understand and engage with the emerging dynamics in the world. While France seeks to position itself to take advantage of this shift, Macron’s presence at the summit would send a strong signal of France’s interest in shaping global developments.
The reaction from BRICS members to Macron’s proposal has been mixed. South African International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor considers the idea a departure from ordinary practice, emphasizing that the decision lies with President Cyril Ramaphosa, the current BRICS chair. Russia, citing Paris’ hostile policy towards Moscow, has deemed Macron’s participation “inappropriate.”
As Macron’s bid for involvement in the BRICS summit unfolds, it will be interesting to see how the dynamics within the G7 and the response from BRICS members shape the future direction of global alliances and cooperation.
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