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Saturday, March 17, 2018

The French Senate called for the easing of sanctions against Russia

The upper house of the French Parliament overwhelmingly adopted a resolution calling for step-by-step lifting of sanctions against Moscow. Earlier the same appeal was made by the lower house. And although the decision of deputies not binding for President Hollande, it is a very important political sign.

On Wednesday, the Senate by an overwhelming majority of votes (302 for, 16 against) adopted a resolution calling for the gradual relief of sanctions against Russia in parallel with the implementation of the Minsk agreements. Earlier, the National Assembly (lower house) also voted for the abolition of anti-Russian sanctions. Thus, to cancel punitive measures against Russia have all urged the French Parliament.

“Sanctions against Russia were adopted on the background of the conflict in Ukraine. To date, however, they are so useless and failed. But they are suffering from the economy, we are losing”

Special emphasis in the resolutions of the Senate made on the resumption of contacts, “removing obstacles to parliamentary and political dialogue”. Thus, the initiators of the resolution recommended to the government “to encourage the European partners to the immediate cancellation of individual sanctions against Russian parliamentarians”.

“Our relations with Russia are of fundamental importance,” – said one of the sponsors, Senator of Paris Yves Pozzo di Borgo. He advocated a “gradual easing” of sanctions in the business sphere and “revision” of political and diplomatic measures of the European Union.

Before we have the debate in front of the Luxembourg Palace gathered a few dozen people demanding to keep sanctions against Russia. As has transferred RIA “Novosti”, the demonstrators were holding flags of Ukraine and chanted anti-Russian slogans. “No lifting of sanctions against Russia,” reads one of the banners.

Previously the project was approved by the influential Senate Committee on foreign Affairs, defence and armed forces. The members of the Commission called a return to “the trust and strong mutual relations with Moscow “a necessary condition for the development of strategic partnership in addressing common problems.

“Sanctions against Russia were adopted on the background of the conflict in Ukraine. To date, however, they are so useless and failed. But the French economy is suffering, we suffer losses”, – said at the debate the Rapporteur of this Commission Robert del Picchia. “Should start with the abolition of personal sanctions, which in particular relate to the Russian Parliament. All this prevents the resumption of normal dialogue with Russia, a country that is an integral partner in addressing global issues,” he said.

“The future of France unthinkable without dialogue with Russia”, – said meanwhile, former Prime Minister, an influential member of the Senate Jean-Pierre Raffarin. “The text of the resolution balanced, – quoted him TASS. – Therefore, I will vote to support it”.

In April, wrote the newspaper VIEW, to the lifting of sanctions against Russia and called on the National Assembly of France, and its resolution has been sustained even in a more decisive tone. “This is the first resolution in the EU on the issue of sanctions against Russia. In normal democracies, when the Parliament votes for a particular resolution, the government is obliged to take this into account”, – said the newspaper LOOK Deputy of the French Parliament Thierry Mariani, the author of the document.

On Monday, two days before the Senate vote, the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko held telephone talks with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. However, the officials assured him that “sanctions against Russia should stay until the full implementation of the Minsk agreements”. This was written at the end of the conversation the website of the Ukrainian President.

Living in France, a analyst Andrei Rachinsky also believes that Parliament’s decision will not affect the French government and the President: “In fact, they will do what they are told from Brussels and Washington. France is not alone can lift the sanctions”.

As for senators, they are, according to the analyst, simply release the anger of the rank and file of the French in “the whistle”. “Public opinion in France was initially opposed to sanctions, but no one asked. Therefore, parliamentarians now pretend that they think about the economy, therefore called for the easing of sanctions. For example, agriculture is in deep crisis. Many farmers in France are going bankrupt. They lost the Russian market. Even if tomorrow the European Union will lift sanctions, French farmers to return to Russia, they already have to pay an entrance fee, for access to supermarkets and so on, and this extra cost in any case,” Raczynski said the newspaper VIEW.

“France in General is in a difficult situation. Strikes, floods. Plus the blow to the tourism industry. The flow of tourists fell by 30%, this is very serious. And not only Russian – the Chinese, for example, are not going. The reason is the terrorist attacks that occurred in November”, – the expert reminded.

“In France, the difficult economic situation,” confirmed the newspaper LOOK former first Deputy Minister of foreign Affairs of Russia, specialist in France Fedor shell-kovedyaev. Therefore, the mass of wage earners are so painfully react to labor reform proposed by Hollande, protesting and marching protest. Russian counter-sanctions seriously hit a very sensitive for French economy, including in agriculture, e.g. dairy industry. There are big problems for fruit producers. A number of industrial sectors is also suffering from our counter-sanctions”.

According to the former Deputy Minister, the decision of the Senate although it is not binding on the government, has an important psychological value.

“And at the end of the vote shows that the anti-sanctions was made by Republicans from the party of Nicolas Sarkozy and the socialists, that is, the party members of Hollande. Yet data on roll-call voting. But most likely, those 16 senators who voted against, is some very loyal supporters of Hollande,” he said.

“Let’s see how this decision will take advantage of Hollande. In General, we see that in the European Union in recent years with respect to this kind of solutions not all is well. We remember that in the referendum in the Netherlands, the citizens opposed the Association with Ukraine, however, the Parliament stated that the will of the voters doesn’t matter. Here, unfortunately, may be a similar development. But, anyway, there is hope that during the discussion of the renewal of sanctions in late June, Hollande somehow mention that he is now not so free to make such a decision, as it was before,” hopes shell-kovedyaev.

On the eve of the vote in the French Senate, the Chairman of the Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko called the resolution, a draft of which will consider her colleagues in Paris, “an expression of opinion, which prevails in French society”.

“The fact of the inclusion in the French Senate of such a decision speaks volumes regardless of the outcome,” she said. As reminded Matvienko, although the resolution is not legally binding, these documents will be forwarded to the French government. “And the government of France, I believe, should heed the opinion of their own Parliament,” suggested the Senator. She added that, in her opinion, this is the case, “when the water wears away the stone”. “I’m sure it’s overdue public opinion against the sanctions against Russia will lead to their abolition,” hopes the head of the upper chamber.

As is known, the extension of punitive measures against Russia will be put to a vote again at the EU summit in Brussels in late June.

The resolution will be a signal for other EU countries, said Yves Pozzo di Borgo after voting. “The outcome of today’s vote prompt to think about our partners from other countries of the EU,” he said. “For the first time the Parliament is one of the European countries expressed the opinion on the issue of anti-Russian sanctions, said the Senator. – It is very important that the voting was held ahead of the EU summit, which is scheduled for the end of June. “I think that the government will take note of the fact that the resolution was adopted by the majority: all factions voted in support of the document, concluded di Borgo. – I hope that the President will bring our position to the EU partners”.

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