The tone is rising between Paris and kyiv even if the objective remains the same, to stop the war: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky criticizes Emmanuel Macron for wanting to provide an “exit door” for Vladimir Putin and is reserved about his plan to ” European political community”.
“We must not look for a way out for Russia, and Macron is doing it in vain”, he regretted in an interview with the Italian channel RAI 1, broadcast on Friday on his Telegram channel.
“I know he wanted to get results in the mediation between Russia and Ukraine, but he didn’t get any,” he asserted, in reference to the multiple exchanges of the French president with his Russian counterpart and himself just before the start of the Russian invasion in Ukraine but also since.
Ne “never give in to temptation or humiliation”
The French president insisted on his side, Monday in Strasbourg, on the need not to “never give in to the temptation of humiliation or the spirit of revenge”.
A reference to the humiliation of the Germans at the end of the First World War, which led straight to Nazism and the cataclysm of the Second World War, according to the French presidency.
But these remarks were also perceived as a veiled warning to the United States, which massively helps Ukraine militarily and whose Minister of Defense, Llyod Austin, wished “to see Russia weakened” forever on the return from a trip to kyiv.
“Putin is a dictator. He doesn’t need to ‘save face’ in front of anyone,” retorted Friday Michael McFaul, former ambassador of the United States in Russia. For President Zelensky, “Macron doesn’t need to make diplomatic concessions (to Russia) now.”
The Elysée defends itself from any single rider. The head of state “never discussed anything with Vladimir Putin without the agreement of President Zelensky”, insists the French presidency.
“It is up to Ukraine alone to define the conditions for negotiations with Russia”also reiterated Emmanuel Macron in his speech on the future of Europe in Strasbourg.
Since his outstretched hand to Vladimir Putin in 2019 – he then pleaded in favor of a rapprochement between the EU and Russia – Emmanuel Macron remains suspicious of too much indulgence towards Moscow in the eyes of Eastern Europeans even s he has always defended “a demanding dialogue”.
“No chair at the table”
Still on the offensive on Europe, Emmanuel Macron proposed on Monday to create a “European political community” to allow Ukraine to join the European project without waiting for full and complete membership of the EU, which will take ” decades”.
This “political community”, intended to welcome countries adhering to the European “base of values”, could offer progressive access to the single market, or even in the long term to the mutual assistance clause of the EU (article 42.7), explains the former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta who worked on the idea.
Ukraine would thus be at the European Council table, like other countries aspiring to the EU – including Georgia and Moldova, theaters of frozen conflicts with Moscow – he notes, stressing that this can ” set up very quickly and informally, like a G20″.
Volodymyr Zelensky and his head of diplomacy, Dmytro Kuleba, have since made no secret of their preference for direct membership of the EU, to which Ukraine has been a candidate since March.
“It’s like a table where the whole family is gathered, and we invited you, but we didn’t put you in a chair. I think it’s unfair”launched the Ukrainian president on Wednesday during a videoconference with French students.
“It is very important for us to reserve this place (in the EU) for Ukraine”, added the next day his head of diplomacy in Berlin.
Far from being new, the idea is openly inspired by that put forward in 1989 by another French president, François Mitterrand, who had, just after the fall of the Berlin Wall, expressed the wish to bring together all the countries of the European continent. within a confederation.
“The Europeans of Central and Eastern Europe have kept the worst memories of it because in their eyes Mitterrand had found it to try to prevent them from pretending to enter the Union and NATO”reminds François Heisbourg at the Foundation for Strategic Research (FRS).