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Emmanuel Macron’s turn to Russia makes EU uneasy

French president accused of hubris over bid to repair Europe’s relations with Moscow
13:22, 12 September 2019

Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron
Le Monde

A burst of diplomatic activity by French president Emmanuel Macron to repair the EU’s frayed relations with Moscow has triggered alarm in other European capitals, where suspicion of Russian leader Vladimir Putin runs deep. The Financial Times agency stated this in an article.

Macron’s immediate aim has been to broker talks between Vladimir Putin and the new Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, to try to end the Russian-backed separatist war in eastern Ukraine. A peace summit, the first in three years, is expected in Paris this month following last week’s exchange of prisoners by Kyiv and Moscow.

But the French leader has a broader ambition — to strengthen European ties to Russia to secure Moscow’s co-operation in other international crises, in particular the dangerous dispute over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“Pushing Russia away from Europe is a profound strategic error, because we will push Russia either into an isolation that increases tensions or into alliances with other great powers such as China,” the French leader told a gathering of his country’s ambassadors in August. “The European continent will never be stable or secure if we don’t pacify and clarify our relations with Russia.”

Like US leader Donald Trump, Macron — who hosted Putin at the French presidential retreat of the Fort de Brégançon ahead of last month’s G7 summit — envisages the eventual return of Russia to the group of leading industrialised economies, from which it was excluded after its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

But some of France’s allies — notably Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and the Baltic states — are wary, and several want to maintain or reinforce EU sanctions against Russia imposed over Crimea.

Related: Crimean Tatar journalist to appeal to ECHR due to criminal case against opened against her by occupants

Norbert Röttgen, head of the Bundestag’s foreign affairs committee, accused Paris of failing to co-ordinate with Berlin or other EU capitals. “The problem is that you’re rewarding Putin even though he hasn’t moved an inch on anything,” he said. “There has been no change in Russian policy. It’s a real validation for Putin. He does nothing and still there’s this rapprochement from Europe.”

But French officials have suggested Paris will not make Crimea an obstacle to better relations if Putin and Zelensky can reach agreement on ending the war in Ukraine.

As it was reported earlier, the representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights and Russian Deputy Minister of Justice Mikhail Galperin said before the ECHR Grand Chamber that during the annexation of Crimean peninsula, Russia did not do much.

The Grand Chamber of the European Court for Human Rights is hearing the case of Ukraine versus Russia, which is related to Crimea. Ukraine was represented by Ivan Lishchyna, the country's Envoy for ECHR Affairs.

Ukraine's lawsuit concerns multiple violations that Russia violated after taking effective control over the Crimean peninsula on February 2014. These measures violate numerous provisions of the Convention for Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and certain protocols of this Convention.

Related: Russia in Crimea targets opponents of Russia's illegal occupation, - Ukraine in ECHR

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