Putin’s Russia is ready to make the “first step” with Emmanuel Macron

According to the Russian Ambassador to France Alexander Orlov, “Russia is ready to take the first step together with the new French President”, to “overcome the mutual distrust that has been established in recent years.”

Alexander Orlov — the person of Russia in France, the shadow of Vladimir Putin. Received his appointment as Ambassador in 2008, Alexander Orlov saw a large number of French politicians in the “bunker” as it is called the giant building of the Embassy located in the prestigious 16th arrondissement of Paris. Speaking of his “sympathy” to Jean-Luc Mélenchon (Jean-Luc Mélenchon) and the “friendship” with Jean-Pierre Sevenman (Jean-Pierre Chevènement), the diplomat maintains strong relations with the right, in particular with Francois Fillon (François Fillon), whose defeat in the presidential election it was “surprised”. After 12 days after the victory of Emmanuel Macron, one of the fiercest opponents of the Kremlin, Alexander Orlov says in an exclusive interview about the attitude of the new President of France to Russia, Bashar al-Assad and the outcome of the presidency, Francois Hollande).

— What do you expect from the Emmanuel Macron?

— Russia wants to continue the policies of their great predecessors, such as General de Gaulle and Francois Mitterand, when France fully played the role of a great power. Russia expects that he will display more independence in making decisions than Francois Hollande, while remaining committed to traditional alliances. I have a feeling that Emmanuel macron will be the President who will leave their mark in the history of France. In his person we are dealing with a real head of state, brilliant, competent and intelligent. He reminds me of Francois Mitterrand.

— However, during his election campaign, macron in their speeches have not spared neither Russia nor Vladimir Putin.

The campaign was very intense and definitely resulted in some statements, but there is nothing extraordinary. Macron has always been correct with respect to Russia.

— Do you regret leaving in the first round, françois Fillon, one of the most Pro-Russian candidates?

— I was surprised at his defeat, but I see that France has a real desire updates, a strong desire for change. Emmanuel macron it embodies.

— What are the issues in the first place Russia will discuss with the new President?

— In the first place — Syria. I am sure that we will be able to negotiate with the new President. He seems more decisive than Francois Hollande, and it is very good. In January we launched the negotiation process in Astana (negotiations between Damascus and those whom Russia calls “armed groups” in Syria) and is already making progress. In particular in respect of creation of security zones. Now you need to push in Geneva, where France can play an important role.

— It may seem that it was mostly Russia is not ready for any talks, systematically using its veto in the UN and pushing a pre-condition of each discussion support Assad.

— With respect to Assad, our position is very clear: the Syrian people, not other countries, must decide what will be the future of his country. France and the United States fixated on Assad, and they all killed each other in Syria. You can not blame this on Assad. The Syrian President, of course, not an angel and not the most gentle person, but he still enjoys widespread public support.

— How do you feel about the revelations of the Washington Post, which accuses Donald trump in the transmission of foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, secret information about Syria?

Is kindergarten, it’s not serious. Thus, the US Democrats are trying to take revenge. They want impeachment.

— What is the state of Russian-American relations?

— It’s too early to talk about it. But the relationship can’t be worse than they were under Obama. USA airstrike on Syria was made on the basis of falsified information. This step demonstrates the impulsive nature of Donald trump, for all is not a good sign. But he is able to negotiate. The meeting between the US President and Vladimir Putin will take place on 7-8 July at the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg.

— How to restart Franco-Russian relations, which are currently at the lowest level?

For this we need political will. And as said Vladimir Putin, you need to overcome the mutual distrust that has been established in recent years. We also need to have a General vision of the future. Our current relationships, whether with France or with the EU, suffer from a lack of common purpose and common political picture. This overall goal is to create economic and human space between Russia and Europe, an integral part of which our country has been from time immemorial. Over time this idea has taken various forms: “Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals” General de Gaulle or the “European Confederation” Mitterrand. Whatever form he took this idea, it is forever inscribed in our shared history. So let’s re-learn to work together, to dialogue, to respect each other, seek solutions instead of stand on their irreconcilable positions. Russia is ready to take the first step with the new President of France.

— Speaking of Franco-Russian relations, what is your evaluation of the activities of Francois Ollada as President for the past five years?

— Assessment is very controversial. In the beginning of the term, Hollande has shown a sincere desire to establish personal relations with Vladimir Putin. He told me after the ceremony at the Elysee Palace in January 2013. Then, because of external circumstances, the relations between our countries have become hostage to international crises, particularly in Ukraine and Syria. In my opinion, Francois Hollande did not have enough perseverance in order to take under its control the foreign policy of France. He was inconsistent in his decisions and often changed course. In economic terms, the results are also very modest. The last two years, France has taken the first place in Russia by quantity of foreign investment. But in 2014, our turnover decreased by almost half. To a large extent this occurred because of EU sanctions (taken in 2014 because of the conflict in Ukraine and renewed until July 2017) and due to the fall in oil prices, but it is also evidence of reluctance to move forward. France sacrificed its own interests in the name of European and transatlantic solidarity.