Putin and Macron Advance France-Russia Collaboration
Sept. 9, 2019 (EIRNS)—Ahead of the 2+2 talks among Russian and French Defense and Foreign Ministers today in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by phone Sept. 8 to review progress in the diplomatic initiatives they agreed to during their talks last month in France. Among the topics they discussed was the prisoner exchange between the Ukraine and Russia which could help lead to new summit in the Normandy Four format, which comprises Ukraine, Russia France, and Germany.
“In furtherance of the recent Russian-French talks in Fort de Brégançon, Russian President Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron. Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron gave a positive assessment of the Sept. 7 release and exchange of detainees between Russia and Ukraine as an important humanitarian operation. They expressed the hope that it will encourage normalization of the Russian-Ukrainian relations,”
the Kremlin said, according to TASS.
“They noted that the Cooperation Council on Security involving the Russian and French foreign and defense ministers will resume its work in Moscow on Sept. 9. The sides agreed to establish contacts in other formats,” the Kremlin press service said. “The Presidents agreed to continue their contacts both by telephone and through personal meetings,” the statement concluded.
At a press conference following the “2+2” meeting, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that the introduction of a ceasefire and prisoner exchange have established the conditions for holding a Normandy Four summit. “Today there is an opportunity to achieve peaceful settlement [in Ukraine]. Now the ceasefire is in effect, which seems to be more lasting and more effective than all the previous ones. Troops were withdrawn in Stanitsa Luhanskaya, a swap took place. President Macron worked very hard on this issue,” Le Drian pointed out. “Therefore, we are thinking that the Normandy Four initiative is a timely action, which needs to be carried out in the coming days.”
French Defense Minister Florence Parly commented at the press conference that the talks, while showing the difference between the two sides, also showed a willingness to seek solutions. “In Syria, we confront a common challenge—terrorism, although our approaches differ,” she said. “We are very worried about the situation in the Idlib zone and the humanitarian situation. We have our red lines that remain unchanged.”
She went on: “We only started this work today, this morning. But the quality of our contact makes me think that we will be successful on this path, even if it is not smooth.”
They said the second arm of the talks is “to think through how we can make a lasting contribution to improve strategic stability.” This is “not always easy because we often have different visions and methods,” Parly stated.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow was satisfied with the ceasefire and prisoner swaps, and hopes these developments would lead to a settlement. He also was satisfied with the “very positive the statement” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “that he is interested in resolving, through working in the Normandy format and Contact Group.... And we certainly expressed the hope that such a position of the Ukrainian President would continue to determine that country’s policy towards a settlement in Donbas,” Sputnik quoted Lavrov as saying.