France’s Macron makes Russia a top diplomatic priority

"Russia's GDP is equivalent to that of Spain, and it has a declining population. Do you think anyone can last that way? We need to offer a strategic option to this country, which it will inevitably need," the French president said during his annual speech in front of French ambassadors on Tuesday (27 August)

President Emmanuel Macron placed great emphasis on Russia during his annual speech in front of French diplomats on Tuesday (27 August), telling ambassadors that “Europe would disappear” if it fails to rethink its strategy towards Russia. EURACTIV France reports.

Considering that the US, Russia and China are all fighting for hegemony, Macron stressed that Europe could either decide to be “minority allies of one or the other, or to take its part in the game”.

“We cannot rebuild Europe without rebuilding a connection with Russia, otherwise Russia will move closer to other powers,” he said, a few days after welcoming Vladimir Putin to the Fort of Brégançon, an invitation some observers deemed unnecessary.

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An ‘architecture of trust’

“Some of our allies will always push us towards imposing more sanctions, but that is not in our interest. We need to build an ‘architecture of trust’ in Europe,” the French president insisted.

“Russia’s GDP is equivalent to that of Spain, and it has a declining population. Do you think anyone can last that way? We need to offer a strategic option to this country, which it will inevitably need,” he said.

During his meeting with Vladimir Putin, the French President was accused of not having prompted the Russian leader to shift his position on Ukraine, which is the main subject of contention with Europe.

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French President Emmanuel Macron and Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Monday (19 August) agreed changes in Ukraine had bolstered the chances of peace in its east but clashed on Syria, as the Russian leader made a rare bilateral visit to a key EU power.

This week, the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine agreed to host talks in September aimed at ending the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

France and Germany “will organise a summit in the Normandy-type-format in the coming weeks to obtain concrete results,” the French President announced on Monday (26 August), during the G7 annual meeting in Biarritz.

However, observers are not very optimistic about the prospects of such a summit.

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European sovereignty

Macron also stressed the need to rebuild ‘European sovereignty’, a term he used repeatedly.

The French President believes “sovereignty” is not a dirty word that should be left to extremists.

“We are the most open, but also the most naive market,” Macron said, calling for an industrial strategy that is compatible with the EU’s climate objectives.

Among the successes achieved after just over two years in power, the president mentioned the issue of defence and security, and highlighted the European Defence Initiative.

“It used to be taboo for Europe but we have made great progress recently,” he said. He also stressed that even Finland, Estonia and Greece are looking to be part of the European Defence Initiative, despite these countries being historically hostile towards the idea of joining forces on defence issues.

Vladimir Putin: Uncontested ruler of his kingdom

Vladimir Putin’s popularity, 18 years after his accession to power, leaves no doubt about the outcome of the election in Russia taking place on 18 March. His popularity has been built on the systematic erosion of  his opponents’ credibility. EURACTIV.fr reports.

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