French Foreign Minister says Russia is a neighbor and needs to maintain a dialogue with it – International Panorama
PARIS, 21 November. / TASS /. France is committed to maintaining a dialogue with Russia in order to find ways to act in the common interest. This was stated by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, speaking on the air of the TV channel LCI on Sunday.
“Russia is, first of all, a neighbor,” he said, answering the host’s question about whether Russia is “an enemy, rival, friend or ally”. “Sometimes there are unbearable neighbors who annoy you, but they are your neighbors.
Le Drian recalled the 2 + 2 meeting of the foreign and defense ministries of Russia and France last week and admitted that “it did not go very well.” “Nevertheless, it happened. We need to stay on the path of dialogue, speak frankly with each other. The same applies to Iran,” he explained.
“Russia is a big country, sometimes we have common political interests, because it is in our interests.
Speaking about Russian President Vladimir Putin, he noted that the Russian leader “seeks to strengthen his power and increase Russia’s weight in the international arena,” although he “does not want to see a strong and united Europe nearby.” Le Drian also expressed the opinion that Russia is not interested in strengthening relations between Europe and African countries, but added that France will make this one of the priorities of its six-month presidency of the EU Council, which will begin on January 1, 2022.
Dialogue in 2 + 2 format
On November 12, a meeting of the Russian-French Council for Security Cooperation was held in the building of the French Foreign Ministry. Russia was represented by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense Sergei Lavrov and Sergei Shoigu, while France was represented by the Minister for European and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian and the Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly. The meeting lasted more than two hours. The agenda of the meeting included issues of strategic stability, the state of relations between the EU and NATO with Russia and regional issues – the situation in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Iran, Libya.
The format of the dialogue between the diplomatic and defense departments of Russia and France within the framework of the Security Cooperation Council was created in 2002. Such consultations were regularly held until 2014, when, at the initiative of Paris, the meeting scheduled for March of that year was postponed due to the situation in Ukraine. Work in this resumed in September 2019 in Moscow. Following the results of the meetings held then after almost five years’ break, they confirmed their intention to continue the dialogue in this format.