04:23 GMT +322 August 2019
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    Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and his French counterpart Francois Hollande arrive at a press conference at the Kremlin in Moscow on November 26, 2015

    France Must Drop Stereotypes of Russia, Develop Full-Fledged Collaboration

    © AFP 2019 / YURI KADOBNOV
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    Now that relations between Moscow and Brussels show no sign of improving, France should do more to restore a full-blown partnership with Russia, according to Francis Gutmann, former French ambassador to Madrid.

    A policy pursued by Paris in relation to Moscow should not be anti-Russian or pro-Russian; it must comply with the interests of France and Europe, Francis Gutmann wrote fot the French newspaper Les Echos.

    Even within its present borders, Russia remains one of the most important players on the global stage, and France should seek to strengthen Moscow's position, he wrote.

    According to Gutmann, geography, history, economics and culture help bring Russia closer to France and the rest of Europe, something that, however, comes amid the deterioration in ties between Moscow and the EU, which adopted a whole array of decisions which were perceived by Moscow as hostile.

    So it is safe to assume that Russia's relations with Europe are of paramount importance to both sides, he pointed out.

    "France is interested in Russia developing ties with Europe. Our goal should be the creation of a global partnership with Russia in all areas, including economics, culture and security… in order to resolve the most pressing international issues," he wrote.

    Gutmann called for developing "a new and sober approach to Russia, rejecting the Cold War stereotypes, which he said are still in place when it comes to the position of the US, the EU and NATO.

    "The alliance pursues an anti-Russian policy which poses a danger to world peace and which is out of line with interests of all parties concerned, including the Eastern European countries," he wrote.

    As for the anti-Russian sanctions, they will most likely be extended, even though they fail to affect Russia's policy on Ukraine and at the same time considerably damage the European economy, Gutmann wrote.

    According to him, to restore a full-fledged collaboration with Russia, France should pave the way for the resumption of a comprehensive dialogue at different levels.

    More efforts are needed to improve the work of official bilateral agencies, as well as cooperation between economic, academic, scientific and cultural communities. Additionally, it's necessary to expand bilateral school and student exchanges, Gutmann wrote.

    The hope is that Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Paris in October 2016 will support these efforts, Gutmann said, adding that the agenda includes Putin participating in the inauguration of a new Orthodox church and various other cultural events.


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