The departure of Jean-Yves Le Drian from the government on Friday, May 20, is that of a political heavyweight. Replaced in her post by Catherine Colonna for the new mandate, this essential figure of the Socialist Party, which he left in 2018, was able to claim to remain a member of the executive between the mandate of François Hollande and the first five-year term of office. Emmanuel Macron, moving from the Ministry of Defense to that of Foreign Affairs.
Ten years of forging French influence in the world, during which the former mayor of Lorient and deputy of Morbihan occupied a leading position in an entire cycle of French intervention in Mali, first with the Operation Serval, launched in January 2013, until the announcement of the disengagement of the French armed forces from the territory in the face of the rejection of the military junta in power in Bamako, in February.
His last year at the Quai d’Orsay was notably marked by the cancellation by Australia of the purchase of twelve nuclear submarines from France, and by the announcement of a new strategic partnership between Canberra, Washington and London in the Indo-Pacific region. France was caught off guard. “We are now on the path to restoring trust with the United States, even if we are not yet at the end”, however, conceded Jean-Yves Le Drian, in November 2021, to Le Monde.
Former President of the Brittany Regional Council
Since the beginning of 2022, the intensification of the balance of power with Russia until the war launched by Moscow in Ukraine has occupied a large part of French diplomatic activity, for which Emmanuel Macron has played the leading role. in the management of exchanges with Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky.
A distribution of tasks like the first five-year term of Emmanuel Macron, during which the Elysée Palace often exercised its sovereign function to the detriment of the Quai d’Orsay. The reform of the high diplomatic hierarchy, on which Jean-Yves Le Drian expressed reservations, is for example on the initiative of the President of the Republic and triggered, in the midst of a government transition period, a rare filing of strike notice ministry staff.
Regarding the Syrian file, Jean-Yves Le Drian, 74, has always shown firmness towards French jihadists, excluding any repatriation of adults detained today in northeastern Syria, and advocating the case per case for children “unaccompanied minors, orphans, for those whose mother accepts the departure”.
The former president of the regional council of Brittany – he let his director of cabinet then replacement, Loïg Chesnais-Girard, run for his place in the regional elections of 2021 – sometimes had a lot to do to smooth the angles of the “disruptions” of the President of the Republic. He was thus at the maneuver, at the end of 2021, to reconcile France with Algeria, after Emmanuel Macron had questioned the existence of “the Algerian nation (…) before French colonization”.
Necessarily busy with international news, the minister however took the time to support Emmanuel Macron in the campaign for his re-election. The left-wing electorate “finds itself” in the head of state, he said in January. Clearer in February, and tougher against his former political family, he even judged that “the Socialist Party is unfortunately closer to burial than to resurrection”.