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Friday, Jan 27, 2023

Some EU states formally express concerns to France over Macron Russia comments - diplomats

Some EU states formally express concerns to France over Macron Russia comments - diplomats

Baltic states and other European nations upset at comments made by French President Emmanuel Macron regarding security guarantees for Russia formally lodged disapproval and explained their position to France on Monday, diplomats said.
In an interview with French TV station TF1 on Dec. 3, Macron said Europe needed to prepare its future security architecture and also think "how to give guarantees to Russia the day it returns to the negotiating table."

Those comments were immediately rebuked by Ukraine and Baltic states. While the French presidency and foreign ministry have sought to play them down, the anger appears to not have dissipated in some circles.

The Czech Republic, which holds the EU Council presidency, helped organize support for the formal diplomatic representation, known as a "demarche".

Supporters of the demarche included the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, along with Poland and Slovakia , two diplomats said. Reuters was not able to establish how many countries in total supported the move, or whether the Czechs supported it.

The French, Czech and Slovak foreign ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Polish foreign ministry declined to comment.

The Czech Republic last week distributed a draft demarche, known as a non paper, to EU members in their capitals, the three European diplomats said. The diplomats said the paper argued that previous Russian efforts regarding European security architecture aimed to divide and weaken Europe.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, European states and NATO members have sought to maintain a united front against Moscow, launching several rounds of sanctions while providing substantial military aid to Kyiv.

The non-paper listed aspects of cooperation and dialogue with Russia, ranging from a 1997 NATO-Russsia document to proposals from December, 2021 that included guarantees demanded by Russia, the diplomats said.

Two diplomats said the Czechs, along with several other member state representatives, delivered the finalized demarche to the French foreign ministry's Director of Continental Europe on Monday.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, a French presidency official said there was nothing new in Macron's comments adding that they were in line with what Ukraine has said, which was that at the end of the war there would be a negotiation.

"In fact, there is a discrepancy, in other words, between on the one hand certain movements or certain people who are trying to ... isolate a piece of a sentence outside of its context and the reality of the work that we carry out which really is done without difficulty," the official said.
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