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Press review: Russia set to host Libya peace talks and France disillusioned with Macron

August 15, 13:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Top stories in the Russian press on Tuesday, August 15

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© AP Photo/Mohamed Ben Khalifa

Kommersant: Russia ready to provide platform for Libyan peace talks

Libyan National Army Commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar has held talks in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu. Among the key issues was Russia’s potential military assistance to Libya. According to Kommersant sources, the Russian authorities who are in favor of continued dialogue between Haftar and his chief opponent, Prime Minister of Libya’s National Accord Government Fayez al-Sarraj, hope to hold direct negotiations between the two politicians on Russian soil.

Lev Dengov, Head of the Russian Contact Group on the Intra-Libyan Settlement, informed the paper on Monday that al-Sarraj would visit Russia soon. "It is not unlikely that this will happen as early as September," he said. According to Dengov, Russian officials maintain dialogue with all parties to the conflict in Libya. "We will do our utmost to promote reconciliation and effective interaction between the warring parties, including Khalifa Haftar and Fayez al-Sarraj," he assured.

He noted that Russia is prepared to provide a platform for negotiations on Libya, adding that the issue will be discussed during al-Sarraj’s visit to Moscow.

However, Grigory Kosach, Professor of the Modern East Department of History, Political Science and Law at the Russian State University for the Humanities, stressed to Kommersant that Moscow’s mediatory efforts are unlikely to lead to a breakthrough in terms of intra-Libyan processes. "Libya is the European area of responsibility where France, Italy and other EU member-countries are running the show," he explained.

 

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Latin American countries oppose US meddling in Venezuela’s affairs

US Vice President Michael Pence has begun his Latin American tour to discuss the Venezuelan crisis with a visit to Columbia. He will arrive in Argentina in Tuesday and then pay a visit to Chile and Panama. However, some Latin American countries reject the idea put forward by US President Donald Trump to use military force against Venezuela, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

Vladimir Davydov, Academic Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for Latin American Studies, singled out several aspects of Pence’s Latin American tour in an interview with the paper. "First of all, this is an attempt to go over from the improvisation hitherto felt in remarks made by the top officials in Washington to some degree of systematization in the work on the Latin American track," he emphasized. "Secondly, Pence will have to solve such a ‘technical’ task as translating the language of threats into the language of diplomacy. The third task the US vice-president is facing is evaluating the degree of toughness against Venezuela and, concurrently, Cuba that can be tolerated in Latin America."

Meanwhile, Latin American countries are divided on the issue. While the members of the Bolivarian Alilance for the People of Our America (ALBA) basically support President Nicolas Maduro, Argentina, Columbia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru and Panama did not recognize the July 30 elections to Venezuela’s Constituent Assembly. Nor do they approve of the US president’s initiative to use force against Caracas, the paper notes.

According to Davydov, Pence will have to face with unflattering criticism in the region. "Despite a certain swing to the right that has been observed in Latin America recently, there is fair degree of resentment for Washington there. Suffice it to mention the Mexican government’s stance. The key issue is whether Pence will be able to act as a successful diplomat. I have considerable doubts as to whether he will be able to fulfill this mission properly," he said.

 

Kommersant: EAEU erases borders in airspace

The key issue in creating a single airspace for the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) member-countries is the degree of their readiness for serious risks for their air carriers, Kommersant quotes AviaPort Executive Director Oleg Panteleyev as saying.

"Representatives of CIS aviation authorities are too sensitive about opening additional flights by Russian airlines from Zhukovsky airport. That’s why the decision to set up a single airspace will inevitably cause rivalry to protect the interests of national players," the expert noted.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev earlier said that a unified airspace would be created in the EAEU. According to Medvedev, work is in progress on developing a roadmap for the project. The Eurasian Economic Commission’s Energy and Infrastructure Minister Adamkul Zhunusov noted that its implementation would begin on January 1, 2018.

Meanwhile, Panteleyev recalled that the transition to the "open skies" in the EU not only increased passenger traffic and increased transport accessibility but also led to bankruptcy (Malev Hungarian Airlines) or loss of independence by some national air carriers (Austrian Airlines owned by German Lufthansa).

Infomost Head Boris Rybak added that replacing bilateral agreements with a single agreement is a very time-consuming process exacerbated by the status of the Trans-Siberian route, which does not fit into the "Open Skies" framework. The expert pointed to profound disagreements with Kazakhstan because of that.

 

Nezavisimaya Gazeta: French disillusioned with Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron's ratings are declining, with his performance approved by just 36% of the population, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes citing the results of a survey conducted by the Ifop research center.

Macron’s popularity rating reached a new low, having fallen by almost 20 points compared to July when his performance was approved by 54% of Frenchmen.

According to local media, even Francois Hollande, one of the most unpopular French leaders, did not encounter such public discontent during the first 100 days of his presidency. Many tend to link Macron’s growing unpopularity to his reforms, particularly, with the liberal economic agenda and plans to reduce the country’s budget deficit.

Macron’s decision to implement the most painful reforms at the beginning of his five-year presidential term looks quite logical, Sergey Fyodorov, Leading Research Fellow at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for European Studies, told the paper. "Of course, the president’s reforms can affect the population’s purchasing capacity in the short-term perspective. Besides, the government plans to launch labor market reforms that will have an impact on employees’ interests this coming fall," the expert explained. "However, it is necessary to come up with such initiatives at the beginning of the five-year term when the authorities still have the energy and enthusiasm, and serious elections are not expected soon."

 

Vedomosti: Economic crisis no longer major concern for Russians

The share of Russians who believe that the economic situation in the country has improved over the past year was about 11% in June, which is much more than a year earlier, Vedomosti writes citing data provided by the Institute for Social Analysis and Forecasting at the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration.

The economic situation in Russia has indeed improved, according to the study’s co-author Dmitry Loginov. Inflation rates are down, and wages have grown. However, the most important aspect is that people have been able to adapt themselves to the new realities. "This adaptation cannot be called effective and promising, but it indicates that we have finally rebounding from the bottom," he stressed.

Some Russians’ most pessimistic expectations of an even deeper crisis did not come true. Therefore, the share of those who see an improvement or, at least, the stabilization of the economic situation, will continue to grow, the expert added.

Against the backdrop of negative expectations, which prevailed during the crisis, the absence of bad news is seen as an improvement, the paper writes.

Meanwhile, Oksana Sinyavskaya, Deputy Director of the Institute for Social Policy at the Higher School of Economics, noted that consumer activity has not been fully restored since the pre-crisis period.

According to Valery Mironov, Deputy Director of the Higher School of Economics’ Center of Development Institute, Russia’s economy is unlikely to grow more than 1.5% in 2017, as it continues to be resource-oriented, and there are no structural changes that would allow it to grow faster.

 

TASS is not responsible for the material quoted in the press reviews

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