Dec 5, 2022
Emmanuel Macron: The 60 Minutes Interview Transcript
In a wide-ranging interview, President Macron discusses the impact the war in Ukraine and U.S. domestic policy are having on his country. Read the transcript here.
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Speaker 1 (00:01):
France is America’s first and oldest ally, offering crucial support, both financial and military, during our revolution. During the 20th century, Americans fought and died on French soil in both world wars. And now, once again, the old allies find themselves in a dynamic and dangerous moment with yet another war being fought in Europe.
This time, the French president is Emmanuel Macron, the youngest ever, who is striving to enhance France’s role in the world, while navigating divisions at home and relations with the US, strained by energy, trade and defense issues. We spoke with him Thursday at Blair House, during his state visit to Washington with President Joe Biden. Earlier in the week we met the French president in Paris at the Elysee Palace.
Speaker 2 (00:56):
The story will continue in a moment.
Speaker 1 (00:58):
Bonsoir, Monsieur le President.
We met President Emmanuel Macron as he was preparing for his second state visit to Washington DC, his first with President Joe Biden.
President Emmanuel Macron (01:14):
So here was in fact…
Speaker 1 (01:16):
The setting could not have been grander.
President Emmanuel Macron (01:18):
And here is my office.
Speaker 1 (01:20):
French presidents have run affairs of state from the Elysee Palace, since Napoleon III in 1848. This room, the Golden Salon, was a favorite of Napoleon III and his wife Eugenie.
President Emmanuel Macron (01:33):
You can see the E and N is for Eugenie and Napoleon.
Speaker 1 (01:38):
Today, it’s the French equivalent of the Oval Office.
President Emmanuel Macron (01:41):
And since De Gaulle, the office of the French president is here. And this is where I work.
Speaker 1 (01:46):
This is magnificent.
President Emmanuel Macron (01:48):
And by the way, this is something I got from my first state visit. This key is the key…
Speaker 1 (01:55):
To the Bastille.
President Emmanuel Macron (01:55):
… To the Bastille and it was brought by Lafayette.
Speaker 1 (02:01):
To the Americans?
President Emmanuel Macron (02:02):
To George Washington, as you know, because Lafayette was very much involved in the American Revolution and the original is in the US, by the way, this is just a copy for me.
Speaker 1 (02:14):
Emmanuel Macron is very much an original. A centrist, determined to shake up the status quo. Seven months into his second term, he has survived massive street protests over high costs and taxes, fought off tough electoral challenges from the right and the left, yet exudes an air of youthful optimism.
At 44, you are the senior leader of Europe. Is that a comfortable fit?
President Emmanuel Macron (02:48):
Yes, because you can have both experience and energy.
Speaker 1 (02:52):
Since February, much of his energy has been focused on the war in Ukraine. From the US, it can feel a world away. From Macron’s vantage point, it’s a wildfire in the neighborhood.
President Emmanuel Macron (03:06):
Russia decided 24th of February this year to launch this war. I think they made a huge mistake. The first one was not to respect international law and to breach all the principles they did sign. And this is a killer for their credibility.
And second, because probably, they made a lot of mistakes in terms of assessment of their own capacities and the Ukrainian capacities. And now, what happened since, let’s say September, they decided to bomb a lot of civilian infrastructures and their perspective is to despair Ukrainian people and to make their life impossible during this winter time.
Speaker 1 (03:56):
You have said that attacking civilian infrastructures is a war crime.
President Emmanuel Macron (04:02):
This is a war crime.
Speaker 1 (04:05):
President Macron had hoped to prevent all of this with his own shuttle diplomacy this past winter, flying to Moscow to meet one-on-one with President Vladimir Putin. And it seemed that you thought you could talk him out of this?
President Emmanuel Macron (04:19):
Indeed, this is true. I thought that it was feasible to avoid the war at that time.
Speaker 1 (04:25):
Still, Emmanuel Macron has been determined to keep an open dialogue with President Putin.
President Emmanuel Macron (04:31):
I always maintain regular discussions and direct contact with President Putin, because I believe that the best way to reengage is to preserve this direct channel. Isolation is the worst thing, especially for a leader like him.
Speaker 1 (04:50):
President Emmanuel Macron (04:51):
Speaker 1 (04:53):
Already, the war has caused food and energy prices to skyrocket. How long can the open-ended western support of Ukraine go on?
President Emmanuel Macron (05:05):
I think it’s extremely important that all of us, meaning European, American, and the maximum number of countries in this world, do support Ukraine. It’s clear that Russia, and especially President Putin, decided to weaponize at least energy and food, creating a lot of shortages, volatility and inflation. And I think his bet is a war fatigue and a sanction fatigue.
Speaker 1 (05:37):
So how does this end?
President Emmanuel Macron (05:40):
I think it’s important to convey the message that this is, the Ukrainians to decide that. The only way to find a solution would be through negotiations. I don’t see a military option on the ground.
Speaker 1 (05:54):
The French president approaches diplomacy and politics with a cool logic, yet often generates heat. On the eve of his trip to Washington, he told us he’d be direct with President Biden like he was when they met early in Mr. Biden’s presidency.
Mr. Biden said that at his first G7 meeting as president, that he walked into the room and said, “The United States is back.” And that you said, “But for how long?” Do you doubt that the United States is a consistent and reliable ally?
President Emmanuel Macron (06:30):
If I look at the 20th century, I have felt no reason to have any doubt about where the US stands when our liberty and our values are at stake. But when you look at the recent period of time, some change of administration had big impact on climate change, on Iran, on some other issues.
Speaker 1 (06:55):
You mean the Trump administration?
President Emmanuel Macron (06:56):
I do. So my point is just, I want us to be allies, I want us to be friends, I want us to be partners. Because I want to engage with the US but I don’t want to be dependent. And I think this is very important because just imagine on your side, would you accept, as US citizen, to say, “My security, my future will depend on an election in France?” No, I cannot imagine.
Speaker 1 (07:29):
You think there needs to be a re-sync of relations. How have relations been out of sync?
President Emmanuel Macron (07:38):
I think this administration, and President Biden personally, is very much attached to Europe. But when you look at the situation today, there is indeed a desynchronization. Why? Energy. Europe is a gas and oil buyer, the US is a producer. And when you look at the situation, our industries and our households are not buying at the same price. So there is a big gap, impacting purchasing power and competitiveness of our societies.
Speaker 1 (08:15):
With Russian natural gas drastically cut, Europe is buying more from the US, but at a price as much as six times what Americans pay. This, at a time, when inflation and unemployment in France are hovering around 7%.
You have said that’s not how friends behave.
President Emmanuel Macron (08:36):
Yeah. We are very much engaged together in this war for the same principles, but the cost of this war is not the same on both sides of the Atlantic. And you should be very aware of that.
Speaker 4 (08:49):
It’s now law.
Speaker 1 (08:51):
President Macron also points to the Inflation Reduction Act, or IRA, new legislation, designed to grow green jobs in the US with subsidies and tax credits for electric cars and clean energy manufacturing in North America.
President Emmanuel Macron (09:08):
But they are, at this very moment of the war, a killer for our industry.
Speaker 1 (09:12):
A killer for your industry?
President Emmanuel Macron (09:14):
For sure. The US decided two and a half months ago to subsidize much more big new green projects, which means for battery, for hydrogen, for a lot of things. The level of subsidies is now two to three times higher in the US than in Europe.
We are totally aligned in this conflict. We work hard, and I think if the day after the conflict, the result is to have a weaker Europe because a lot of its industry will have been just killed, I do believe it’s not the interest of the US administration and even the US society.
I think the main interest is, obviously, to protect your middle classes, which is a very fair one. I do the same for my country. And it’s to be competitive vis-a-vis China. But the result of the recent decision in this momentum, I would say, is it’s bad for Europe.
Speaker 1 (10:12):
President Macron brought those concerns to the White House this past Thursday.
President Emmanuel Macron (10:17):
We want to build peace…
Speaker 1 (10:18):
After the pomp and pageantry, the two presidents retired to the Oval Office and cabinet room, discussed the problems of the world for two hours, and emerged unified.
President Biden (10:30):
France is one of our strongest partners. We share the same values and address all challenges together.
President Emmanuel Macron (10:37):
Thank you so much.
Speaker 1 (10:39):
After meeting with members of Congress and a half hour before racing off to the state dinner…
How are you?
President Emmanuel Macron (10:45):
Speaker 1 (10:46):
… President Macron talked with us at Blair House, the presidential guest house.
As we were talking in Paris. You’re a man who likes to be direct and look someone in the eye. So you’re sitting across from President Biden. What did you tell him about the challenges the Inflation Reduction Act is inflicting on your country and your people?
President Emmanuel Macron (11:10):
We had a very good and frank and fruitful discussion. President Biden’s intention is to make his country stronger, to create jobs here, to re-industrialize, and at the same time, to address climate change issues and to build more green industry in your country. I do share this objective, I do respect this objective. And guess what, I have exactly the same for my country.
Speaker 1 (11:38):
It sounded in the press conference like the two of you agreed to disagree or to at least keep talking. What we say in the United States is it sounded like the two of you decided to kick the can down the road.
President Emmanuel Macron (11:51):
No, I don’t think so. Honestly speaking. It’s not an agreement to disagree. This is a strategic agreement and I think we do share now much more in-depth our strategy on both sides.
Speaker 1 (12:05):
But you told us in Paris that the Inflation reduction Act is an industry killer, a job killer?
President Emmanuel Macron (12:12):
Speaker 1 (12:13):
For Europe. And with unemployment and inflation in France hovering around 7%, it seems like this is urgent to get a resolution?
President Emmanuel Macron (12:23):
I confirm. This is why I can tell you that what we decided with President Biden is precisely to fix this issue and they are fixable.
Speaker 1 (12:32):
What can be fixed? He said he could think of some tweaks. Is that enough?
President Emmanuel Macron (12:38):
My point is to say it was urgent to raise this issue. I did it. It was urgent to discuss in depth about it. We did it this morning together. It’s urgent to fix it. We can do it.
Speaker 1 (12:49):
You are the senior politician in Europe right now. So when you go back to Europe, what do you tell your European partners? Was this state visit a success?
President Emmanuel Macron (12:59):
Yes, definitely. Number one, because we did confirm our total alignment on the Ukrainian situation. Second, we had a very fruitful and in-depth discussion, on this context, IRA and the side effects, and we will fix it on the short run. Third, we had a lot of convergence on climate change, health, security in Africa and a lot of projects. So for me, this is a very good state visit with a lot of very positive outcomes. I can tell you.
Speaker 6 (13:36):
More from President Macron…
Speaker 1 (13:38):
Should Vladimir Putin be charged with war crimes?
Speaker 6 (13:42):
… At 60minutesovertime.com.