17:54 GMT +319 September 2019
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    People walk past campaign posters of Emmanuel Macron (L), head of the political movement En Marche! (Onwards!), and Marine Le Pen (R), French National Front (FN) political party leader, two of the eleven candidates who run in the 2017 French presidential election, are seen in Paris, France, April 10, 2017

    This is How Macron's Victory Could Change French-Russian Relations

    © REUTERS / Gonzalo Fuentes
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    On Sunday, France held the run-off of the presidential election, with independent Emmanuel Macron, the leader of "En Marche!" movement winning the race with 66.1 percent of the votes.

    Not Like the Others

    Emmanuel Macron, head of the political movement En Marche !, or Onwards !, and candidate for the 2017 presidential election, attends a meeting in Reims, France March 17, 2017
    © REUTERS / Pascal Rossignol/File Photo
    Relations between Paris and Moscow were one of the hot topics during the presidential campaign, and many of the candidates were criticized by media for their "pro-Russian" stance. For example, the newspaper L’Express published an analysis titled "Presidential election: 11 candidates, 7 pro-Putin." However, Macron was never said to be a friend of Putin.

    Moreover, a week before the first round of the election, Macron said he will manage to make himself "respected" by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    "Unlike others, I am in a position to be respected because I have no debt to Russia in this campaign where unacceptable interference took place," Macron told Jeune Afrique, a French-language weekly news magazine.

    "Russia has a great people, a great culture and a great history. We have often been allies, including during the time of the USSR. But today there is no reason to submit to any Russian domination, to be impressed or to let the Russians act in defiance of international law," Macron added.

    On Monday, President Putin congratulated the newly elected French president, confirming readiness for cooperation on crucial issues and expressing hope for overcoming tensions.

    "The President of Russia confirmed his readiness for constructive joint work on topical issues on bilateral, regional and global agenda. […] It is especially important to overcome mutual distrust and join efforts to ensure international stability and security," a congratulatory telegram by Putin read.

    Successor of Hollande’s Policy

    Outgoing French President Francois Hollande (R) and President-elect Emmanuel Macron attend a ceremony to mark the end of World War II at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, May 8, 2017.
    © REUTERS / Stephane De Sakutin/Pool
    In an interview with Sputnik, Ziad Majed, a political researcher at the American University of Paris, suggested that ties between Paris and Moscow will continue to remain complicated because Macron’s policy on the matter is unlikely to be different from that of outgoing President Francois Hollande.

    According to the expert, Macron’s foreign policy will be close to "Hollande’s vector" and will be "focused on relations with Germany, especially after the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union."

    "As for Russia, Macron is likely to continue the policy started by Hollande. Thus, ties between France and Russia will be as complicated and unfriendly as during Hollande’s term," Majed said.

    Common Ground

    "Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron, who have nothing in common, including age, career, beliefs and methods, should forget about an unprecedentedly hostile campaign," an article in Le Figaro read.

    According to the newspaper, the two sides still have common points. In particular, despite Macron’s reserved stance on the Syrian settlement, the new French president, just like Putin, sees as priority the fight against terrorism in the region.

    "Thus, there is a fragile bridge for resuming dialogue," the article noted.

    At the same time, Macron stands for keeping anti-Russian sanctions in place until the full implementation of the Minsk agreements on Ukraine.

    "If Russia meets its commitments, then we will gradually lift European sanctions and, in conjunction with Germany, we will strengthen the political and economic partnership of the EU with Russia," Macron told Jeune Afrique in April.

    New Partner

    The French newspaper Les Echos noted that despite a downturn in French-Russian relations started in 2014, Macron has sent "certain signals" that Paris is interested to resume bilateral cooperation.

    According to the newspaper, in 2016, Macron made several "optimistic statements" on Russia. In particular, he said that "Russia is part of France’s strategic interests."

    Les Echos suggested that the first step to normalization could be "sending a French minister to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in June," which has not happened in the last three years.

    Cherchez la Femme

    Le Monde published an article on the future of French-Russian ties under the headline "Macron is elected president. Moscow believes this is Merkel who won." 

    According to the newspaper, Macron’s victory in the election has left Russia "no hope of having a Eurosceptic leader as the president of France."

    "Nevertheless, a woman has won. And this woman is [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel," the newspaper cited a tweet by Russian senator Alexei Pushkov. The article equated the comment with Russia’s official stance on the situation.

    According to Le Monde, Moscow sees Macron’s victory first of all as a vote for France staying in the EU.

     

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    sanctions, dialogue, cooperation, tensions, French Presidential Election 2017, European Union, Vladimir Putin, Francois Hollande, Emmanuel Macron, Russia, France
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