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memri
September 6, 2018 No.
7659

Russia In The World – Russia-France Relations – Sputniknews: Good Bye, Trump? Macron Looks At Russia As A Possible Ally

"Russia In The World" is a MEMRI Russian Media Studies Project review of Russia's geopolitical interests and areas of penetration. This installment will deal with Russian private military companies and their role in expanding Russia's influence.

"Europe can no longer entrust its security to the United States alone. It is up to us to assume our responsibilities and to guarantee European security and thereby sovereignty" (Source: Twitter.com/EmmanuelMacron, August 27, 2018)

Macron's Views On EU Sovereignty And Multilateralism – Macron: We Have To Renew Dialogue With Russia

On August 27, 2018, in his speech at the Ambassadors' Conference 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron declared that the EU needs to ensure its own security, without relying on the Unites States.[1]

Macron elucidated: "France is ready to enter into concrete discussions with European States on the nature of reciprocal solidarity and mutual defence relations under our Treaty commitments. Europe can no longer entrust its security to the United States alone. It is up to us to assume our responsibilities and to guarantee European security and thereby sovereignty."

Pursuantly, the French President added that it was necessary to rethink European security and EU relations with Russia as part of the new security approach. Macron stressed: "We must fully take on board the consequences the end of the Cold War. Allies today are still extremely important, but balances, and sometimes the reflexes on which they were built, need to be reviewed. And that also means that Europe should also act accordingly. This enhanced solidarity will involve a review of the European defence and security architecture. This will include initiating renewed dialogue on cyber security, chemical weapons, conventional weapons, territorial conflicts, space security and the protection of polar regions, especially with Russia."

In his speech, Macron also raised the topic of "multilateralism", a form of cooperation among states, rather than of competitive international relations, which is the leitmotiv of his foreign policy.[2] According to the French President the US is disrupting the multilateral order by turning its back to the EU. Macron said: "Indeed, multilateralism is undergoing a major crisis, with an impact on all of our diplomatic efforts – primarily because of US policy. Doubts concerning NATO; the aggressive unilateral trade policy leading almost to a trade war with China, Europe and a few others; withdrawal from the Paris agreement; and denunciation of the nuclear agreement with Iran are all examples of this. The partner with which Europe built the post-war multilateral order seems to be turning its back on this shared history. France has always been the first and the most forthright country when it comes to expressing its opposition to these decisions, always working to persuade before such decisions are taken, and to maintain the crucial high-quality dialogue between our two countries. And I fully stand by this approach."

It is worth noting that in May 2018, Macron was the guest of honor at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. During a joint news conference with Putin, Macron raised again the concept of "multilateralism," and stated: "I proposed to President Putin to determine together with France a new, clear definition of the multilateral approach, multilateral relations, so that these terms cease to be empty words, so that they yield concrete results. This meets the interests of our countries. I think this is a factor that can bring us closer together. We discussed a whole range of international issues in the same vein."

On that occasion, Macron once again underlined France's "independence" in foreign policy. Macron remarked: "Our dialogue with Russia is one link in this independent policy as well as our belonging to democratic and sovereign Europe. Just like our alliance with the United States... The fact that we speak openly with our partners is a hallmark of our independence."[3]

During his stay in St. Petersburg Macron clearly cast doubts on his commitment to trans-Atlantic relations, showing a desire to break with the concept of a "unipolar" order and the trans-Atlantic alliance in order to embrace a "multilateral" approach. "To be clear, I want to put an end to this insufficient sovereignty, which, perhaps, was the case in Europe before," stressed Macron. In that occasion, Putin quickly seized the opening and suggested a new strategic alliance with France: "Emmanuel said that Europe and the United States have mutual obligations. Europe depends on the U.S. in terms of security. But there is no need to worry, we can help with security. At any rate, we will do everything we can to prevent any new threats. I think we need to take this road."[4]


Macron and Putin at the St. Petersburg International Economic (Source: Kremlin.ru)


Putin with Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron at the Kremlin on July 15, 2018. (Source: Kremlin.ru)

Macron Offers Positive Assessment On The Results Of Cooperation With Russia In Syria

In his speech at the Ambassadors' Conference 2018, Macron also assessed that the France-Russia dialogue has produced positive results in Syria.

Macron explained: "The coordination mechanism created in St Petersburg with Russia has borne its first fruits, particularly from a humanitarian standpoint, without compromising on our principles and through non-governmental organizations present on the ground leading humanitarian operations for civilian populations."[5]

The mechanism of French-Russian dialogue in Syria was implemented in conformity with the decisions taken by Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron during their meeting in Saint-Petersbourg.

In July, the Russian ministry of Defense declared that a Russian military airplane had delivered more than 40 tons of French humanitarian aid to the airport of the Hmeimim base in Syria.[6]


Macron and Putin at the St. Petersburg International Economic (Source: Kremlin.ru)

Macron Evokes De Gaulle's Policies

The French edition of Sputniknews.com published an article, titled "Good Bye, Trump? The Reason Why Macron Is Looking At Russia As A Possible Ally."

In the article, Sputniknews.com analyzed the op-ed by Youri Roubinski, director of the Center for French Studies at the European Institute of the Academy of Sciences of Russia, published in the Russian media outlet Gazeta.ru.

In his op-ed, Roubinski opined that, after his coming to power, Emmanuel Macron has been trying to find a common language with Donald Trump, acting as an intermediary in the dialogue between Washington and Brussels. However, Roubinski stressed that the dialogue failed.

As for Macron's declaration about the necessity for strenghtening European security independent of United States participation, Roubinski said that he does not consider this a "revolutionary development", but rather a tactical move by Macron to exploit the present situation. According to Roubinski, there is no reason, at present, to believe that there will be any dramatic decision, since the European countries are busy with the elections for the European Parliament, due to take place in 2019, and with the appointment of the new European Commission as well as with Brexit.

Nevertheless, Roubinski opined that Macron's intent to act as a spokesman for a united Europe echoes the policies towards Russia carried out by Charles De Gaulle.[7] He then added that Macron is being more successful than his predecessor in consolidating ties with Russia. As an example, he pointed to Franco-Russian humanitarian cooperation in Syria (see above).

Roubinski added that, at the moment, Moscow hopes that Paris and Berlin will release the funds for rebuilding infrastructures in Syria, a decision that will serve the Europeans because it would enable Syrian refugees, who became asylum seekers in Europe, to return home. According to Roubinski, as a former fiduciary power in Syria, France is ready to play an important role in this Middle East country. In Roubinski's view, the Franco-Russian dialogue will become more substantial once the Idlib battle is over.

 

 

[1] See Speech by President Emmanuel Macron - Ambassadors’ Conference 2018

[2]It is worth noting that upon his arrival in the U.S. on April 23, 2018, Macron posted a tweet on the concept of multilateralism: "The United States and France have a particular responsibility. We are the guarantors of contemporary multilateralism. This visit is very important in the context of the uncertainties, troubles and threats that we currently face. We have a number of challenges to meet."

On September 19, 2017, Macron delivered a speech at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly: "So, I don’t know if my distant successor, in 70 years, will have the privilege of speaking before you. Will multilateralism survive the period of doubts and dangers that we are experiencing? In truth, we need to remember the state of the world, 70 years ago, broken by war and stunned by genocides. We need to rediscover today the optimism, ambition and courage that we raised against these reasons to doubt. We need to rediscover faith in what unites us. That means that we need to rediscover confidence in these founding values of the UN, which are universal and protect individuals across the planet, guaranteeing their dignity.

"But, ladies and gentlemen, how did this happen? Because we allowed the notion to descend, that multilateralism is, in a way, a comfortable sport, a game for sitting diplomats; that it is the instrument of the weak. That is what has happened over so many years. Because we let ourselves believe that we were more credible, stronger, when we acted unilaterally. But that is wrong. Because we let ourselves believe, sometimes cynically, that not everything could be achieved through multilateralism.

"So we let global disruption gain the upper hand. We have dragged our feet on addressing climate change and on tackling today’s inequalities that dysfunctional capitalism has begun producing. We have allowed discordant voices to speak out. But it is always the loudest voice that wins at that game, every time. In our complacency, forgetting the lessons of our history, we have allowed the idea that we are stronger outside multilateralism to gain a foothold.

"But the challenge today, for our generation, is to rebuild that multilateralism. It is to explain that today, in the current state of the world, there is nothing more effective than multilateralism. Why? Because all our challenges are global, such as terrorism, migration, global warming and regulation of the digital sector. All these issues can only be addressed globally, and multilaterally. Each time we consent to circumvent multilateralism, we hand victory to the law of the strongest.

"Because yes, my friends, if we are to enshrine our vision of the world, we can only do that through multilateralism. Because this vision is universal. It is not regional. Because every time we have given in to those who say that the role of women was a matter for the few, in a certain part of the world, but not for others, or that equality between citizens was a matter for one civilization, but not another, we have abandoned what has brought us here together in this place and the universality of these values. There too, in certain countries, we have given in to the law of the strongest.

"Because every time the great powers, sitting around the table at the Security Council, have given in to the law of the strongest, to unilateralism, or denounced agreements they had themselves signed, they have not respected the cement of multilateralism: the rule of law. That is what made us, and builds peace over time.

"So yes, today more than ever, we need multilateralism. Not because this is a comfortable word, or because it is a sort of refuge for smart people. No, because multilateralism is the rule of law. It is exchange between peoples, the equality between us all. It is what allows us to build peace and address each of the challenges we face." Diplomatie.gouv.fr, September 19, 2017.

Vladimir Putin and Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, frequently invoke the concept of multilateralism to condemn unilateral measures by the United States such as sanctions. See for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IpRe3S5tbw and Lavrov's speech at the BRICs summit in Pretoria "The five nations firmly uphold the basic principles of the UN Charter, above all, the sovereign equality of states and non-interference in their internal affairs. They are committed to the principles of indivisible security in all aspects, using collective methods of settling crises by political and diplomatic means and practicing multilateralism. They reject armed interventions, unilateral economic measures of coercion, protectionism and unfair competition." Mid.ru, June 4, 2018.

[4] See MEMRI Daily Brief No. 162, "Quo Vadis, Macron?", May 30, 2018

[6] Fr.sputniknews.com, August 27, 2018.

[7] In a November 23, 1959 speech in Strasbourg, de Gaulle said: "Yes, it is Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals, it is Europe, it is the whole of Europe that will decide the fate of the world." After WWII, France was in a predicament: It felt that it could either choose submission to the new superpower, the U.S. that had saved France from the catastrophe of Nazism - and renounce its dreams of grandeur - or take an anti-U.S. approach so that it could rebuild the global power that it had once had. The second option was more appealing to de Gaulle, and he looked to Russia to build a strong Europe that could counterbalance the American strength and give France an international role as a major power. In this context, de Gaulle pursued a policy of "national independence" that led him to withdraw from NATO's military integrated command, a move still appreciated today in Moscow.