Tuesday

21st Aug 2018

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).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • 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 firms in Iran caught between US and Europe

European companies with business in Iran appear caught in a tug of war between the European Union and Washington. The US demands they leave Iran or face sanctions. The European Union says remain in Iran or face penalties a home.

News in Brief

  1. Italy allows boat with migrants to dock
  2. France's Total pulls out of Iran due to US sanctions
  3. Trump accuses EU and China of currency manipulation
  4. Swedish conservatives regret unsuccessful integration policies
  5. Record high measles cases hit Europe
  6. Swedish politician declares war on media
  7. Italy threatens to return migrants to Libya
  8. MEP accuses Maltese government of 'hate campaign'

Opinion

Has the time finally come for 'European champions'?

Since Emmanuel Macron took the French presidency in 2017, the concept of consolidating European industries to create continental 'champions', capable of competing on a global scale, has been revived.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. UK sanctions appeal risks highlighting EU divisions
  2. Wind delays launch of European wind-mapping satellite
  3. Greece 'normal' again after end of crisis, EU says
  4. Putin strikes blow against Russia's isolation by Europe
  5. EU-China cooperation on CO2 storage lost in limbo
  6. Greece exits bailouts, but difficult path ahead
  7. EU gets record response on 'summertime' consultation
  8. 'Nativism' and the upcoming Swedish and Bavarian elections

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  4. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  6. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  8. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  9. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  12. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us