Wednesday

21st Nov 2018

Fillon promotes pro-Russia views in Berlin

  • French conservative presidential hopeful Francois Fillon. (Photo: UMP)

Francois Fillon, the French conservative presidential candidate, challenged Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel on Russia and refugees during a visit to Berlin, as both countries face critical elections later this year.

Fillon met with Merkel in a closed-doors meeting on Monday (23 January) in his first visit to the German capital since he won the centre-right primaries in November.

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

Afterwards, he held a speech at the conservative think tank, the Konrad Adenauer foundation, where he said Russia should “be a major partner” and that the current EU policies towards Moscow were a "deadlock".

Merkel has been one of the main proponents of EU sanctions on Russia, but Fillon said the measures had been "totally ineffective".

He warned that the issue was particularly burning since a president with pro-Russian views has been installed as US president.

"It would be damaging for Europe if Trump went above our heads," Fillon said.

Better relations with Russia and Syria's Bashar al-Assad would also help to contain the threat of Islamist terror, he said.

In an interview with Le Monde and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Sunday, Fillon said that Europe's insistence that the Syrian president would vacate his post had been counterproductive.

"The Russian approach has avoided that the Islamic state takes power in Damascus… I know who Bashar Al-Assad is, I know what crimes he has committed but making his departure a prerequisite was a gross misjudgment which excluded the Europeans from the process," Fillon said.

He proposed that the EU would set up a security conference with Russia, "on the new security challenges in Europe".

Fillon, a former prime minister, is a frontrunner in France's presidential race. A recent poll put him behind the National Front's Marine Le Pen, but if the two make it to the election's second round, he can count of the support of other pro-democratic parties to block the extreme-right leader from power.

Fillon said he opposed an EU scheme to relocate refugees who are stuck in Greece and Italy to other member states.

"We can not accept more refugees," he said, and called for the closing of EU borders.

"If borders are not protected by our European partners, and in the context of the war against Islamic totalitarianism, France will re-establish real checks at its borders," he said.

Fillon also called for stronger Franco-German relations and defended the European Union.

Merkel, who is herself seeking a fourth term as chancellor in Germany's September election, didn't comment on Fillon's proposals.

French candidates avoid EU debate

In their first TV debate, the main candidates for the April election only briefly discussed the country's EU policies, with far-right Le Pen and centrist Macron taking aim at each other.

Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Authorities in Budapest confirmed the former prime minister of Macedonia, fleeing a jail sentence in his own country, has filed for asylum. Despite Hungary's strict asylum laws, the pro-Kremlin politician was not turned away.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary grants asylum to ex-Macedonia PM
  2. UK court rules against government in Article 50 case
  3. May to meet Juncker on Wednesday to finalise Brexit deal
  4. Future of EU's Mediterranean naval mission in doubt
  5. EU budget talks for 2019 collapse
  6. EU mulls new Russia sanctions over Ukraine 'elections'
  7. EU farm chief 'confident' sugar prices will recover
  8. Researcher: EU expert groups still imbalanced and opaque

Opinion

On Armistice Day, EU is still best gift we can give our children

While young people fought each other in 1918, young people in 2018 travel to study together under the Erasmus programme. But there is a risk of limiting our commemoration to representing the past through just speeches, museum exhibits and visits.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Boycott threats mount on eve of Interpol election
  2. EU parliament to renege on transparency promises
  3. Cyprus and Greece to create EU spy academy
  4. MEPs likely to delay vote on greater transparency
  5. Cold shoulder for Franco-German euro budget plan
  6. Whistleblower: Danske Bank gag stops me telling more
  7. Spain raises Gibraltar, as EU and UK talk post-2020 relationship
  8. Panic is not answer to EU's security challenges

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us