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Former French President Sarkozy Believes Diplomacy and a Neutral Ukraine Are Only Way Out

Aug. 22, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—On Aug. 16, on the occasion of the publication of Nicolas Sarkozy’s new book Le Temps des Combats (The Time of Battles), Le Figaro Magazine published a long interview with the former French President in which he, plainly speaking as a voice of a more realistic faction of the French foreign policy establishment increasingly furious at Macron, summarizes again his views on Russia.

Sarkozy first honored the just deceased, highly respected Russia expert Hélène Carère d’Encausse. Then Sarkozy said:

“The Russians are Slavs, they are different from us. Discussion is always difficult, and has given rise to many misunderstandings in our shared history. Despite this, we need them and they need us. I have had profound disagreements with Vladimir Putin, and I took my responsibilities in 2008, when I was president of the European Council. I convinced him to withdraw his tanks, which were 25 km from Tbilisi. He had started to invade Georgia. But at the same time, Angela Merkel and I showed him that we were aware of his ‘red lines.’ That’s why we refused to allow Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO, despite strong American pressure. We didn’t want to let Putin drift into the anti-Western paranoia that has long been the temptation of Russian leaders. The Kremlin’s encirclement complex is an old story. Putin was wrong. What he has done is serious and has resulted in failure. But once you’ve said that, you have to move on and find a way out. Russia is and will remain Europe’s neighbor.”

Sarkozy, clearly anticipating that the truth of the Western defeat will become known very soon, said:

“We can’t stick to the strange idea of ‘making war without making war.’ We’ll have to clarify our strategy, especially if this war is to last. Diplomacy, discussion and exchange remain the only means of finding an acceptable solution. Without compromise, nothing will be possible, and we run the risk of things degenerating at any moment. This powder keg could have fearsome consequences.”

Le Figaro: “The Allies say they will support Ukraine ‘all the way.’ Are they right?”


“The words are strong and definitive. ... Does it mean taking back the Donbass? Take back Crimea too? Or go all the way to Moscow? The annexation of Crimea in 2014 was a clear violation of international law. But when it comes to this territory, which was Russian until 1954 and where a majority of the population has always felt Russian, I think that any return to the past is illusory; even if I believe that an indisputable referendum, i.e., organized under the strict control of the international community, will be necessary to ratify the current state of affairs.”

Le Figaro: “And what about the rest of Ukraine?”


“If the Ukrainians don’t succeed completely [in taking back their territory], the choice will be between a frozen conflict—which we know will inevitably lead to a new hotbed of conflict tomorrow—or a way out from the top, once again through referenda strictly supervised by the international community, to settle these territorial issues definitively and transparently....

“First of all, we need to agree on Ukraine’s vocation. Joining the EU? I don’t think so. Ukraine is a bridge between West and East. It has to stay that way. We’re in the process of making false promises that won’t be kept. Just like those made to Türkiye for decades. Not just because Ukraine is not ready and does not meet the criteria for membership. But because it must remain a neutral country. I don’t see how this neutrality would be an insult. It could, moreover, be guaranteed by an international agreement providing for extremely strong security assurances, to protect it against any risk of new aggression.”

The French daily Libération, historically known as a money and propaganda conduit of the U.S. Embassy and the Anglo-American war party, immediately reacted with unfriendly fire. Responding to Sarkozy’s interview, Libération on Aug. 21 ran two articles smearing the former President. The first, written by the “Trotskyite” former chief editor, Serge July, locates Sarkozy’s views as part of an overall “neo-dictatorial temptation,” putting in the same bag Trump, Mélenchon, Sarkozy, and Fillon, all presented as “crypto-putinists” tempted to become strongmen while already on trial for their “illiberal” behavior.

Thomas Legrand then expresses his worries about Sarkozy’s books, which are finding their way to the public. For several days, complains Legrand, Russian TV and media, and also former President Dmitry Medvedev, have been paying honor to Sarkozy! A shame. For Legrand, Sarkozy’s position, as opposed to official French policy, is a complete break from “the tradition of elementary decency of former heads of state,” who are not supposed to express views opposed to the incumbent President. Sarkozy’s ideas are not original, writes Legrand, they only reflect those of the worrisome U.S. billionaire Elon Musk.

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