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French top diplomat points to possibility of new era in relations with Russia

He invoked a recent meeting between the Russian and French presidents and the French leader's anticipated visit to Russia for V-Day celebrations
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian
© Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS

PARIS, September 19. /TASS/. A new era may begin in relations between France and Russia, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told the CNews TV channel.

"Perhaps, a new era is about to begin in the history of our relations," he said. "However, I am cautious in my assessment," Le Drian added. He pointed out that all meetings that he and French Defense Minister Florence Parly had held in Moscow "were useful."

"First and foremost, it is about boosting ties between the two countries’ civil societies. There has been some progress in this regard," the French top diplomat noted, adding: "Proof of this is the fact that the two countries will hold an economic meeting before the end of the year."

"The most important thing is that we have agreed on issues concerning our security and crises such as those the Middle East is facing," Le Drian went on to say. "We decided to outline issues related to the nuclear field, conventional weapons and cyber space in an atmosphere of transparency, which means pursuing the principle: ‘tell us what you are doing and we will tell you what we are doing.’ We will try to move forward based on this strategy. We certainly won’t tell each other everything but let’s take some steps forward," he stated.

According to the French foreign minister, during the Moscow meetings, the parties reached an agreement "to exchange views on current crises on a regular basis." "There are issues on which we have differences, let us admit it, we are carefully identifying them. I am talking about Syria, the Libyan and Iranian crises," Le Drian noted. "Channels of dialogue are being established in connection with all these issues," he added. "It will take time but it is necessary to radically change the situation."

Difficulties in relations

"We haven’t yet reached a level that would allow us to say that Russia has become a part of Europe," the French top diplomat emphasized. "However, the fact that [French] President Macron will visit Moscow to attend celebrations marking the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in the 1939-1945 war is important," he stressed. "The atmosphere in relations with Russia has improved and we would like to take constructive actions together," he noted.

According to Le Drian, "in Bregancon, something happened that is contributing to the improvement of relations between President Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin. That said, we have decided to return to the previous pattern of relations, which used to include regular meetings, particularly between the foreign and defense ministers of the two countries. A schedule of such meetings has been set up," he pointed out.

At the same time, during the interview, he voiced a number of negative evaluations about relations between France and Russia. "The situation in relations with Russia is not interesting at the moment because of a mutual lack of trust," the French foreign minister noted.

"There are reasons for it," he specified. "There are a number of conflicts and disagreements between France and Russia, particularly on Ukraine and Syria. Besides, Russia doesn’t trust the European Union and the West," he added, pointing out that "such a situation is beneficial to neither party."

"This is the reason why French President Emmanuel Macron initiated certain steps towards Russia so that we can get back on a path of trust, without demonstrating naivety and ignoring points of disagreement," Le Drian said. "This is based on the assumption that Europe should embrace Russia, otherwise it will pivot towards the East, namely China. If it happens, ties with Russia will be broken, while we think that Russia is a truly European country," the French top diplomat concluded.