| 9 December 2023, Saturday |

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

On Monday, diplomats say, the Baltic States and other European nations offended by remarks made by French President Emmanuel Macron about security assurances for Russia publicly expressed their disagreement and laid out their positions to France.

Macron stated that Europe has to plan its future security architecture and consider “how to give guarantees to Russia the day it returns to the negotiating table” in an interview with French television station TF1 on December 3.

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.

According to two diplomats, the Czechs handed the finalized demarche to the director of Continental Europe at the French foreign ministry on Monday together with representatives from a number of other member states.

A representative of the French presidency told reporters on Friday that Macron’s remarks contained nothing new and were consistent with what Ukraine had already stated—namely, that there would be negotiations after the battle.

The official stated, “In actuality, there is a contradiction between on the one hand certain movements or certain persons who are attempting to… separate a bit of a sentence out of its context and the reality of the work that we carry out which truly is done without difficulty.

  • Reuters