Macron giving EU-Russia relations a new dynamic?

French President Emmanuel Macron received Vladimir Putin at his summer residence on Monday. During the meeting he made the case for a new European security architecture into which Russia would be integrated. He also expressed his desire for a revival of the Normandy format after the elections in Ukraine. Commentators ask whether the meeting could mark a turning point.

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Ria Nowosti (RU) /

This president knows what he wants for Europe

Ria Novosti is delighted that Macron evoked a "Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok":

“Protecting Europe from Russia, erecting an impermeable wall from the Baltic to the Black Sea - all of these geopolitical projects that are so dear to politicians from Riga to Warsaw to Kiev don't fit into this paradigm. But that's just part of the problem. The other part is the EU's political configuration, whereby small countries tell the official Paris and the official Berlin that they are not right in the least. ... Macron, however, is a stringent supporter of a centralised EU and a United States of Europe - and he doesn't like any attempts to 'readjust' his foreign-policy objectives.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Rapprochement in tiny steps

A true rapprochement between Russia and Europe is still a long way off, NRC Handelsblad comments:

“Moral outrage, sanctions and exclusion haven't made the Kremlin rethink its position. Crimea remains Russian. Assad is still in power thanks to Russia's help. Ukraine is still suffering as a result of a conflict. Nevertheless, at least dialogue is being sought once more. ... The strengthening of Russia's ties to Europe can only take place in small steps. The opposition to its G7 membership is too strong. It would legitimise the annexation of Crimea, those who oppose it say. ... The encounter on the Côte d'Azur also highlighted how great the distance is between Russia and the West.”

Mediapart (FR) /

Macron betraying the people and peace

France's president is playing right into the hands of Putin's dirty power apparatus, blogger Pierre Haffner rails in Mediapart:

“This meeting will be a lifeline for the ailing government. On 10 August the opposition brought together 60,000 people in Moscow - a figure not seen since 1992. The Kremlin propaganda will exploit the pictures of the meeting between Macron and Putin to the full to prove that the dictator is socially acceptable. Macron, the banker, is betraying the people and peace for the sake of business and money.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Pragmatism needn't be wrong

Macron's pragmatism is on display again, comments Nadia Pantel, France correspondent for Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“[Macron] was formed in a Europe that had put the world wars, colonialism and the cold war behind it. In his worldview there are very few unbridgeable differences; ultimately there is always the opportunity to talk out problems. Sometimes this seems naive, sometimes courageous, sometimes like an exaggerated show of power. What really counts in the end however is who profits from Macron's playful confidence in acting as global intermediary. In the case of Russia, it means that Macron can only chalk up his lengthy talks with Putin as a success if in the medium term at least, democracy in Russia is strengthened.”

Adevărul (RO) /

New alliances are being forged

Macron sent out signals of rapprochement at the meeting which could precipitate major changes, Cristian Unteanu concludes on his blog with Adevărul:

“First off fine-tuned the definition of the geographical zone to which the great agreement of the future is to apply will be fine-tuned: de Gaulle's formula is outdated, the talk is no longer of a 'Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals', but of a 'Europe from Lisbon to the Urals'... Another key factor is the reason for Macron's trip to Moscow (in May 2020): to build a new architecture of 'security and trust'. This could be a game changer, not just in EU-Russian relations but globally. It forces the major powers to promptly realign their national policies but also to reassess the power alliances to which they belong.”