Tuesday

17th Oct 2017

Macron to tell Putin EU sanctions to stay

  • Versailles setting will "suit" Putin, a former Hollande aide said (Photo: PRONinara)

The new French leader aims to tell the Russian president he wants political solutions in Syria and Ukraine, but that EU sanctions on Russia are to stay in place.

That was the message that French president Emmanuel Macron gave to press following the G7 summit in Italy on Saturday (27 May).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Macron and Merkel have voiced a tough and united line on Russia (Photo: elysee.fr)

“I’ll have an exacting dialogue with Russia, but we do need a dialogue despite everything … especially on the issue of Syria”, he said.

“We must talk to Russia to change the framework for getting out of the military crisis … to build a political solution”.

Macron noted that the G7 - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US - had agreed that economic sanctions on Russia should stay in place until Putin stopped the war in east Ukraine.

“I respect those principles and I will continue to support them”, the French leader said.

He said he wanted to take part in talks on Ukraine in the so-called Normandy format - with German, Russian, and Ukrainian leaders - as “soon as possible”.

EU states and the new US leader, Donald Trump, fell out over climate change and defence budgets last week, but Macron said transatlantic disunity should not be blown out of proportion.

The G7 talks and a prior Nato summit in Brussels last week “reaffirmed the solidarity” of “the world’s great democracies and economic powers” on foreign policy issues such as Syria and Ukraine, the French leader said.

Macron spoke prior to meeting Russian president Vladimir Putin for the first time on Monday.

Man to man

The two men are to hold one-on-one talks for an hour and 15 minutes as well as a 45-minute long working dinner at the Versailles palace complex near Paris.

It will be the first time Putin is to hold bilateral talks with a French leader since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014.

The meeting also comes after Putin tried and failed to help Macron’s rival, French far-right politician Marine Le Pen, to win the French election earlier this month.

The event is likely to be watched for its body language after Macron said that his tug-of-war handshake with Trump in Brussels last week was designed to show that France would not give way even on “little” things.

The Macron-Putin meeting will be heavy in historical symbolism as well.

The Versailles venue is hosting an exhibition to mark 300 years since the visit of Russian tsar Peter the Great to French king Louis XV.

The tsar at the time picked up the king, who was seven years old, in his arms, but Christophe Castaner, a Macron aide, said Putin, a 64-year old veteran of world affairs, should not expect to humble the younger Macron, who is 39.

“I’m confident [Macron] will take a strong position”, Castaner told French radio at the weekend.

“It’s all the more important since some may think this young man doesn’t have the stature of a president of the republic and isn’t up to defending France”.

Kremlin agenda

Yury Ushakov, a Kremlin aide, said last Friday that the main aim of the Macron-Putin meeting would be for the two men to get “acquainted”.

Ushakov noted that France has had one of the “toughest” attitudes in Europe on Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, a Russian ally whom France has said must step down and face justice for war crimes.

Ushakov also noted that "trade turnover [between France and Russia] has halved over the past three years from over $22 billion [€20b] to over $13 billion”, due to EU sanctions and Russian counter-sanctions.

He said that 180 French businessmen planned to attend an economic forum in Russia next week.

Alexander Orlov, Russia’s ambassador to France, told French media last week that Macron was “very intelligent, realistic, and pragmatic” as well as “free from ideology”.

Irony

Jacques Audibert, a former aide to Macron’s predecessor, Francois Hollande, said Putin would “like” the imperial pomp of the Versailles venue.

“It adds a bit of grandeur”, Audibert told the CNews TV broadcaster.

Kadri Liik, an Estonian expert at the Council of Foreign Relations, a London-based think-tank, said it was an “irony” the Russian tsar went to France to mark a pivot to Europe, while Putin was going there “at a time when Moscow loudly promotes its ‘pivot to Eurasia’ in terms that suggest the unravelling of Peter the Great’s legacy of Russia’s European identity”.

The OSCE, an international monitoring group, recorded more than 230 explosions in the Donetsk area of east Ukraine on the eve of Putin’s trip to France.

Ukraine aside, Human Rights Watch, a New York-based NGO, urged Macron to also challenge Putin on his increasingly totalitarian rule in Russia.

The Versailles meeting will “give direction to the agenda for Franco-Russian relations for years to come, but the question is how firmly rights will be embedded in it”, the NGO’s Benedicte Jeannerod said.

Macron and Putin hold uneasy first talks

French and Russian leaders agreed to "strengthen" ties at their first meeting, but exchanged jabs about Russian efforts to influence French elections.

EU in diplomatic push to save Iran deal

EU leaders mobilise to stop Trump's attack on Iran deal, as Congress prepares knife-edge vote with implications for trans-Atantic ties and Middle East stability.

Opinion

EU can still end Rohingya ethnic cleansing

If European leaders speak and act now, there's a chance ethnic cleansing could end before the last Burmese Rohingya is killed, captured, or exiled.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  2. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  3. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  4. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  5. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  6. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  7. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  8. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  10. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year
  11. ILGA-EuropeMass Detention of Azeri LGBTI People - the LGBTI Community Urgently Needs Your Support
  12. European Free AllianceCatalans Have Won the Right to Have an Independent State

Latest News

  1. No sign of Brexit 'speed-up' after May-Juncker dinner
  2. Report: EU defence strategy 'outsourced' to arms industry
  3. EU privacy rules tilt to industry, NGO says
  4. Malta shocked after car bomb kills crusading journalist
  5. Spanish and Catalan leaders continue stand-off
  6. May pleads for more as EU makes Brexit gesture
  7. EU circles the wagons around Iran deal
  8. 'Think of the patients!' cry warring EMA-host cities

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ECR GroupBrexit: Delaying the Start of Negotiations Is Not a Solution
  2. EU2017EEPM Ratas in Poland: "We Enjoy the Fruits of European Cooperation Thanks to Solidarity"
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and UK Discuss Deepening of Global Comprehensive Strategic Partnership
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceEHLA Joins Commissioners Navracsics, Andriukaitis and Hogan at EU Week of Sport
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Representative Office Opens in Brussels to Foster Better Cooperation
  6. UNICEFSocial Protection in the Contexts of Fragility & Forced Displacement
  7. CESIJoin CESI@Noon on October 18 and Debate On: 'European Defence Union: What Next?'
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Support Start-Ups
  9. ILGA EuropeInternational Attention Must Focus on LGBTI People in Azerbaijan After Police Raids
  10. European Jewish CongressStrong Results of Far Right AfD Party a Great Concern for Germans and European Jews
  11. EU2017EEEU Finance Ministers Agreed to Develop New Digital Taxation Rules
  12. Mission of China to the EUGermany Stands Ready to Deepen Cooperation With China