A number of European Union countries, behind closed doors, officially reprimanded France for statements made by French President Emmanuel Macron at the beginning of December.
This was reported by the Reuters news agency, which quoted unnamed European diplomats.
In an interview with the French channel TF1, Macron stated that Europe should think about “how to give Russia security guarantees on the day they return to the negotiating table.”
It has caused an uproar in parts of the European Union.
It creates discord
The statement angered countries including Poland, Slovakia and the Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Together with the Czech Republic, the two countries handed over so-called “assistant” diplomatic referees to France on Monday.
Reuters writes that because the operation took place behind closed EU doors, it is unclear whether many countries supported the punishment as well.
Researcher Iver Neumann, director of the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, expert on diplomacy and Russia. He believes that Macron’s statements in themselves should not be controversial.
– To say that one has to take into account one side in peace negotiations is not entirely controversial. This is the essence of peace negotiations. Likewise: Neumann says that saying Russia has legitimate security needs is not controversial.
“Difficult” is, however, the word Neumann uses for the situation that has arisen in the wake of Macron’s statements. He believes that there are two reasons for this:
First, saying things like that when Russia is fighting a dirty war of aggression can be presented as an attack on Ukraine, even if the statement is true, Newman says.
– Second: It is clear that the data has not been previously dealt with in the European Union. It is unwise, as it creates disunity in the European Union. Altogether, these are statements that should have been made in another forum, not publicly. He adds that it should also have been coordinated with the European Union beforehand.
Lead from the front
Nor is it the first time that the French president has been accused of being alone in matters of foreign policy that affect the entire European Union and Europe in general.
This does not exactly come as a surprise to Newman.
It is a French tradition to lead from the front. We are talking here about the only nuclear power in the European Union. One way to lead is by example, but the EU is, by and large, a consensus organization where you have to be rooted. In these cases, the diplomatic expert says, it may appear that Macron is leading too much from the front without ensuring a continued rear guard.
He says that there are two fundamentally opposing views on Russia that are ultimately the root of internal discord within the European Union.
– The first thing is that we have to find a way to live with an aggressive and tough Russia, and this is the position of France. The second is that Russia must be reduced in size to what it was before the war, in order to teach them a lesson. These include Poland and the Baltic line, Neumann says.
Naturally, tension arises between these conflicting approaches.
– This is also a tension that lies within every politically motivated European, and we find the same debate in Norway as well, he says.
Before Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24 this year, Macron positioned himself as a potential mediator.
Therefore, Macron was subject to suspicion and criticism.
Suspicious because it happened before the French presidential election. It has been criticized, especially by Ukraine, for appearing indifferent to Vladimir Putin’s brutal war machine.
– Macron is a typical centrist, both at home and abroad. He wants to be a statesman and operate from the middle, but there is always a balance in how much and in which direction. Newman says it likely stretched too far in the forward driving direction.
However, he praised the French president and his efforts to continue dialogue with Russia and Putin.
– During January and February, he did a lot to try to convince Putin to understand how wrong this war would have turned out. Putin responded by humiliating him, but Macron persisted. He should get it — at least try to be constructive, says the diplomacy expert.
“Wait, my beauty.”
Perhaps Putin’s biggest insult to Macron occurred in Moscow 13 days before Russia invaded Ukraine. Then Putin and Macron held a five-hour meeting, and They sat at either end of a table more than four meters long.
During a joint press conference after the meeting, Putin stated that Macron had “annoyed” him. Putin also delivered the following message with Macron’s message The western way:
“Like it or not, wait, my beauty.”
The message suspiciously resembles a text passage in a song Russian punk band Krasnaja plesen wrote in Norwegian, “Red Mold,” about rape and massacre. In the song in question, it says “sleep” instead of “hold on.”
The verdict was “disgraceful” Politico on Macron.
Newman believed that in this situation one should be more lenient towards the French president.
Macron makes a very clear point: Russia Poetry legitimate security interests, completely independent of any regime in power. But when a country acts violently, as Russia is doing now, you may appear to guarantee violence by highlighting its interests, he says.
“Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer.”