The BRICS economic bloc of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa is slated to hold a summit in Johannesburg, South Africa this August. This upcoming summit is quickly becoming one of the key events in the global economy this year, reflected not only in the widening coverage of the event in the mainstream media but also in the possibility of some Western leaders like Macron joining the event.
Macron reportedly asked South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to invite him to the BRICS summit. This is according to a phone conversation he had with his South African counterpart on June 3 that was recently made public. (Related: BRICS members discuss possible expansion and creation of common currency to challenge US dollar's supremacy.)
The French government has not officially confirmed whether Macron's request to be invited to the BRICS summit is legitimate. But Palki Sharma on Firstpost described the request as "a surprising knock on BRICS door" and said that Macron "wants a slice of the action" that is definitely expected to happen during the summit.
Firstpost further speculated that Macron may want France to join BRICS because it is entering the "big leagues." Alternatively, Yaroslav Lissovolik, writing for Modern Diplomacy, suggested that Macron may want BRICS to open up a new platform specifically designed to promote cooperation between the developed and developing world economies.
Other media outlets have made their own speculations. Russia Today suggested that the French leader may want to discuss his plans to "overhaul the global financial and geopolitical order," a topic he raised more than once in past statements.
Russia and China, the two biggest players within the BRICS bloc, have expressed differing views on Macron's potential visit during the BRICS summit.
The Kremlin's main reaction is confusion over Macron's potential motives. Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova remarked that "it would be nice if they told us why they want to attend."
"Do they want to once again make some contact to show Paris' activity, or is it a 'Trojan horse' of some sort? So, let them explain," she said.
"It is up to the host country to invite guests, much depends on it, but many organizational and practical issues have not yet been settled," said Assistant to the Russian President on Foreign Policy Yuri Ushakov. He noted that summits "often have guests" and that South Africa "initially planned to invite literally most of the African states to the summit."
"It is common practice, yes, but as a rule, these issues are coordinated with all member states," Ushakov added, hinting that Ramaphosa may need to consult with other BRICS nations before accepting Macron's request for an invitation.
France's relationship with most of the BRICS nations is "fractious at best," according to Russia Today, with matters especially tense with Moscow due to Macron's open and continued opposition to Russia's special military operation in Ukraine and support for a peace plan drafted by Kyiv, which Moscow has categorically rejected.
Meanwhile, Chinese state media are ecstatic at the prospect of Macron's participation at the summit. Global Times, a tabloid owned by the Chinese Communist Party's central committee or governing council, described Macron's participation in the summit as a "bold and innovative idea," seeing it as an opportunity for Beijing to peel Paris away from the West's sphere of influence.
"Macron himself has made surprising statements on multiple occasions, demonstrating a certain level of autonomy separate from Washington," reported the Global Times. "These factors make it feel like it wouldn't be particularly strange if Macron were to attend the BRICS summit. The fact that such news are emerging in France and not in other countries itself speaks volumes."
Learn more about BRICS and its ongoing effort to create a multipolar global financial and economic structure at EconomicRiot.com.
Watch this clip from "Vantage with Palki Sharma" on Firstpost as host Palki Sharma discusses Macron's confusing desire to elbow his way into the BRICS summit.