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MOSCOW, 9 March. /TASS/. The West should go ahead with the search for ways of holding talks with Russia, France’s former interior minister, Hubert Vedrine, has said in a televised interview.
"I believe that President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are taking correct steps to steer their current initiatives in this direction. Possibly, they should have been taken earlier, but Merkel was not prepared for that then," Vedrine told the TV-5 Monde channel on Sunday.
He acknowledged that "this is going to be a hard way, but it should be followed by all means.
"It must be remembered that Russia is and will remain our neighbor and at a certain point normal relations with it will have to be established. Russia must be treated with due respect, without any attempts to make it dependent on the West," Vedrine said.
"Time is ripe for the West to reconsider its policy towards Russia," he believes." Russia may become our valuable partner in conducting policies in the Middle East."
"Over the past few months I developed the impression Francois Hollande is aware that Europe’s previous policies towards Russia were leading everybody into a dead end. It looks like Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius shares this opinion in conducting talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. Both Hollande and Fabius are trying to find the best way out of the current situation," Vedrine said.
While looking back on the past few decades he pointed out that "mistakes in relations between the West and Russia were committed on both sides, from the moment of the Soviet Union’s breakup."
"In the West both the Europeans and the United States were taking wrong steps," Vedrine said. "For instance, the West erroneously maintained that the Russian economy needed extremely vigorous liberal reforms. As a result Russians’ wages lost 30-40% of their purchasing power. A number of steps to expand NATO contributed to the worsening of relations, too. It is not accidental that even such hawks as Kissinger and Brzezinski lately pointed to the need for leaving Ukraine outside NATO and maintaining its neutral status."
"The United States, too, was conducting a policy of deploying missile interceptors close to Russia’s borders, ostensibly for protecting itself from hypothetical attacks from Iran, which entailed a long controversy in relations with Russia. And the ban on the use of Russian language in Ukraine was an outright provocation towards Russia," Vedrine said.
In his opinion, such a policy towards Russia would "result in a deadlock fraught with risks for the West itself, so every effort must be exerted for the sake of changing the situation for the better."
Vedrine criticized some countries for their policies of taking more sanctions against Russia. "Europe should distance itself from that policy by the United States, which has remained unharmed by US counter-sanctions, and to follow the course Hollande and Merkel have mapped out.