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    Francois Fillon, candidate in Sunday's second round of the French center-right presidential primary elections, members of the conservative Les Republicains political party, delivers a speech during a meeting with deputies in Paris, France, November 22, 2016.

    Francois Fillon's Victory Could Usher in 'New Era of Russian-French Relations'

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    François Fillon’s victory in this year’s presidential elections could help restore broken ties between France and Russia and usher in a new era of relations between the two countries, Moscow State University sociologist Pavel Kanevsky told RIA Novosti.

    Earlier, in an interview with Le Figaro, Francois Fillon underscored the strategic importance relations between Moscow and Paris have for the future of Europe, adding that the Russian people will never crack under the pressure of economic sanctions.

    He called for a new economic partnership between France and Russia and proposed holding a European-Russian conference on new security provisions for the continent.

    “Much has been said about Russia favoring Fillon’s candidacy [for the presidency] above all the rest. If he wins, we could start talking about mending fences even though it would be premature to talk about any improvement of Russia’s relations with Europe in general because not everyone there favors such an improvement,” Pavel Kanevsky said.

    He added that even though under President Hollande Russia and France have remained good partners, this is still not enough to offset the differences Moscow has with Brussels and a number of EU countries, which has reflected negatively on its relations with the EU as a whole.

    “As for [Francois Fillon’s] idea to hold a European-Russian conference, it makes a lot of sense, but whether other EU members are prepared to pick it up is a big question,” Kanevsky noted.

    He said that with Francois Fillon at the helm this idea could gain more traction because Fillion enjoys much respect both in France and elsewhere in Europe.

    “He is a moderate centrist and at the same time he is holding out for innovative approaches to a number of domestic and foreign challenges, above all the threat of Islamic terrorism,” Kanevsky observed.

    He also said that Fillon’s readiness to discuss issues pertaining to the situation in Donbass and elsewhere in Ukraine and seek a mutually-acceptable modus vivendi with Moscow was gaining growing support in France.

    “In this sense, Fillion is a political realist whose approach to international relations is viewed as very positive in Moscow. Fillion sees Russia as a country Europe will have to deal with no matter what,” Pavel Kanevsky said.

    The French presidential elections will take part on April 23, with the run-off scheduled for May 7.

    Francois Fillon will face Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader, former Minister of the Economy Emmanuel Macron running as the candidate from self-founded En Marche Party, Jean-Luc Melenchon as another independent candidate and either Benoit Hamon or Manuel Valls from the Socialist Party.

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    mutually-acceptable solutions, innovative approach, Russian-French relations, fence-mending, En Marche, The Republicans, National Front, Pavel Kanevsky, Benoit Hamon, Jean-Luc Melenchon, Manuel Valls, Marine Le Pen, Francois Fillon, France
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