Russia Is Counting on French EU Leadership to Mend Ties
(Bloomberg) -- Russia will lean on France to mend its fraught ties with the European Union when Emmanuel Macron takes over the bloc’s rotating presidency next year.
The relationship with the EU is “back to the level it was at 25 years ago,” Russian ambassador to Paris Alexey Meshkov said. “We hope that the French presidency will allow us to exit the current dead-end.”
Holding the rotating EU presidency will give France a say over the bloc’s agenda, and for Macron that means pushing for greater independence from the U.S. when it comes to European defense and foreign policy.
Early in his mandate, Macron announced that he aimed to reboot French relations with Russia, saying that no essential topic could be addressed without Moscow. He invited President Vladimir Putin to his residence in Bregancon and the Versailles Chateau for talks, upsetting some European allies.
Yet the initiative failed to secure concessions from Russia on Ukraine or Syria. More recently, Macron asked Putin to use his influence on Belarus to end the migrant flows coming into Europe.
The ambassador said it was Macron’s turn to pay a visit to Russia, but that no date has been decided.
Macron will take over the presidency of the Council of the EU on Jan. 1 and hold it for six months, a period that includes the French presidential election.
Though the race looks set to be tight, polls suggest that Macron, or a candidate on the right, will win the first round of the ballot on April 10. Other conservative contenders share the president’s view that an open channel of dialog with Russia is important. On the left, that is viewed with by some with discomfort.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.