Q - Should European sanctions on Russia be eased to facilitate dialogue with Moscow?
A - We have an ongoing dialogue with Russia, confirmed recently by the meeting between the French President and his [Russian] counterpart on May 29 at Versailles, as well as yesterday’s trip to Moscow by the minister for Europe and foreign affairs.
As Jean-Yves Le Drian noted on that occasion, “We are not seeking to isolate Russia from the rest of Europe or to isolate it economically. We want to work together pragmatically to solve the problems that affect us as much as Russia.”
France is working in the Normandy format to resolve the conflict in Ukraine. As Jean-Yves Le Drian said yesterday, “The longer [the Ukrainian crisis] lasts, the more distant the prospect for a settlement and with it, the prospect for normalizing relations between the EU and Russia.”
Q - Are France and Russia now on the same line regarding the policy to be pursued in Syria?
A - As Jean-Yves Le Drian reaffirmed on June 20 in Moscow, we share certain priorities with respect to the Syrian crisis:
“We share some common ground regarding the assessment of the situation in Syria:
- first of all, we are both determined to defeat Daesh and combat Al Qaeda;
- we are both determined to ensure that Syria’s territorial integrity and unity are maintained;
- we are both determined to ensure that there is a state in Syria that can fulfill its functions;
- we are opposed to the use and manufacture of chemical weapons;
- we want to maximize access for humanitarian assistance;
- we are seeking to ensure a political solution based on UNSCR 2254.”