Emmanuel Macron has said that the EU needs a “frank and rigorous” dialogue with Russia to defuse tensions, as it called for new security agreements on the continent.
The French president was rejected by other EU states in June when he and then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a surprise proposal for a summit with Vladimir Putin.
Speaking in Paris at the beginning of France’s six-month EU presidency, Macron said: “I think the European Union must have a dialogue with Russia. Having a dialogue does not mean giving in, dialogue means above all taking stock of disagreements ”.
In a nod to last summer’s fierce opposition from Poland and the Baltics to a summit with Putin, he said talks with Russia must be coordinated between the EU. Macron said: “I keep calling for a dialogue that is frank, rigorous and coordinated, because the member states do not have the same history regarding Russia, nor the same geography.”
Russia has massed some 100,000 troops along its border with Ukraine, prompting fears of an invasion.
Macron spoke alongside European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who promised proposals for a new “European security architecture.” He rejected claims that the EU was a bystander in efforts to resolve Ukraine’s security crisis – the bloc has no formal role in a sequence of meetings next week between the US, Russia, and NATO, and under the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. “It is very clear: there is no solution without Europe,” said Von der Leyen.
Macron welcomed the US talks with Russia, praising Joe Biden’s “exemplary” coordination between Europe and the White House on this matter, a sign that the fences have been mended since the furious dispute between Paris and Washington over the submarine Aukus and the security pact.
The French president said a new security architecture in Europe must take into account the expiration of a cold war-era arms control treaty. The 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which kept nuclear weapons off European soil for three decades, expired in 2019 when the United States and Russia failed to agree on their future. “We are no longer covered by the INF treaty, which is a concern for many states, particularly in central and eastern Europe,” Macron said. “We cannot remain in this situation. It is our responsibility to address it. “
Von der Leyen, a former German defense minister, who was chosen by Macron to lead the EU executive, has called for a more “geopolitical” European Commission. He said he was monitoring with great concern the situation in Kazakhstan, where authorities are using deadly force to quell protests. “The rights and security of citizens are of the utmost importance and must be guaranteed,” he said. “I am calling for an end to the violence and the European Union stands ready to offer its help wherever it can.”
Earlier in the day, Macron and Von der Leyen visited the Panthéon, the secular mausoleum of prominent French citizens, where they paid tribute to the late Holocaust survivor and celebrated French politician, Simone Veil, as well as the founding father of the European project, Jean. Monnet.
Veil, the first and only President of the European Parliament, was buried in 2017 in the Pantheon, the final resting place of the philosophers Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and, since last November, the Franco-American civil rights activist Joséphine Baker. Monnet, who died in 1979, proposed in 1950 with French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman a common market for coal and steel for six European nations: the genesis of the EU.
French officials say the EU must become more sovereign in everything from foreign policy, industrial production and managing the pandemic. This means a more assertive stance towards authoritarian powers like China and Russia; European production of crucial technologies, such as microchips and medical equipment; as well as exporting vaccines to Africa.
Even Europe’s climate agenda for net zero emissions by 2050 is defined as “environmental sovereignty” as France seeks quick agreement on a CO proposal.two levy on polluting imports in the block.
Member states seeking less economic intervention in the economy, however, are wary of France’s agenda for European onshore production, fearing that it may be a form of protectionism against foreign trade.
While French and European officials have praised EU exports and donations of 1.5 billion doses of vaccines, critics, such as former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, have accused the bloc of “seizing” South African production of injections. from Johnson & Johnson.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism