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Saturday, February 17, 2018

A great bargain, the EU and Russia: at the St Petersburg economic forum was going on the wonders of diplomacy

Today Russia is rapidly sorted out the relations with the European Union. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged the Kremlin was the first to lift sanctions, the head of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker promised to continue cooperation in those areas, which Brussels considers it beneficial and necessary.

And Russian foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov objected to both, noting that the sanctions – is the problem of the EU itself, and to dance to the tune Russophobic minority Russia is not going to. On the first day of the St. Petersburg international economic forum (SPIEF), Vladimir Putin in discussions did not participate. Like a good actor, he decided to pause that is scheduled for Friday arrival caused the maximum effect on friends and foes.

photo: RIA Novosti

This year the St. Petersburg economic forum with Vasilievsky island moved in the Shushary industrial zone. Maybe residents of the city from it, in fact, won. But the visitors – especially foreigners – are no doubt lost.

Road to the complex “Expoforum” from the historical center takes at least an hour, and instead of the gorgeous views of the Gulf of Finland and the old building participants have to admire the artificial lawn with a hastily constructed floral arrangements. “In may, there was not even a floor!” – bragged about the Stakhanovite pace of the construction of the organizers. But all the problems in time to solve, of course, failed.

“They need to dismantle the ceiling! Say they can’t negotiate in such a cold – all contracts will be broken! And the conditioner is turned off,” complained the guards frightened hostess.

For the performance of ex-President of France on the forum in the best traditions of the Russian bureaucracy have built a special podium. But Sarkozy preferred to discuss problems of interaction of Russia and Europe, sitting in an easy chair.

“You need to come when things go wrong. So manifest true friends!”, – throwing a leg over the other, he explained the purpose of their presence at the SPIEF. Sarkozy frankly admitted that does not like diplomatic discussions that are “so intelligent that it is impossible to understand what is said”. Fortunately, this is not the style of President Putin. “This person can talk openly,” he praised Sarkozy. Undiplomatic and revealed the contents held on the eve of talks with the Russian leader:

I told him that the strong should reach out first and lift the sanctions. A strong Russia is. I wish Mr Putin announced the lifting sanctions on its part, and we Europeans will follow that example.

According to Sarkozy, such a goodwill gesture will help not only the restoration of economic ties between Russia and the EU, but the implementation of the Minsk agreements. “I know that you have family relations with Ukraine, and they are the most difficult, as they have not only the mind but the emotions,” said a French visitor. But about the reaction of Vladimir Putin, despite the contempt for diplomacy, still silent.

However, according to Sarkozy, he is not the first time you have to conduct delicate negotiations with the leadership of the Russian Federation. “In 2008, President Medvedev asked me whether it would be a weakness to stop the Russian army in 40 km from Tbilisi. And I said, “No! Then we resolve the conflict in 4 days” – set memories Sarkozy, is transparent hinting that fear is to show weakness continues to haunt the Kremlin.

Present in the audience asked the experts: are there any guarantees that the West will follow the example of Russia and also to lift the sanctions? But Sarkozy just blithely laughed in response: “When you decide to start a family, what is the guarantee that everything will be all right? In the end, what will you risk? If that doesn’t work, take their suggestions back!”.

He spoke clearly provocative things, but did it so convincingly that I do not believe it was impossible. For half an hour, Sarkozy has taught homegrown politicians a real master-class of political debate without prepared speeches and vague answers. And only the question of supplies of Crimea (and it is, of course, also was a provocation) briefly knocked him out.

– In the Minsk agreements, there is no word about Crimea. So why should I talk about? – avoided estimates Sarkozy .

At some point in the hall’s cellphone rang. “Yeah, I love this song,” quickly responded the visitor, recognizing the melody that plays his wife Carla Bruni. And after hearing from journalism question in French, I almost jumped for joy:”In times of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky here all spoke French!”.

While Sarkozy has charmed the audience, the Russian Minister thought it possible to respond to his unexpected proposal. To be answerable for all had the Minister of economic development Alexei Ulyukayev, the first of which the journalists caught on the sidelines of the forum.

With a heavy sigh, the head of the MAYOR admitted that will not change anything – a paper on the extension of bradenburg until the end of 2017 is in the final stage. “The initiative of the entrance to the sanctions regime was on the side of our partners, therefore, the initiative of the outlet should also be on their side,” he argued.

The European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on the issue of lifting of sanctions has also had to keep myself together and follow the logic, not just marked in the EU: first, the implementation of the Minsk agreements, then the lifting of the restrictions. There is no other way. However, the first thing the Commissioner has decided to publicly explain to the offenders who had criticized his trip to Russia.

– Why am I still here? – began his speech, Juncker, Because we in Europe it is important to talk, to discuss Russia not only among themselves but also with the Russia and its people. We need to continue to talk despite the sanctions and leave the door open. This to me is common sense.

According to the head of the European Commission, the relationship between Europe and Russia haven’t been great long before the “illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol”. And after these “tragic events” of mutual distrust has increased markedly. “We need to restore the level of trust,” said Juncker, but no concrete steps were not offered.

His speech was a good example of the “diplomatic discussions”, which an hour earlier had criticized Sarkozy for words like said a lot, but in fact nothing. To summarize read the paper the speech of the European Commissioner in one sentence: the EU is ready to cooperate with Russia, but only where it is profitable or vital – for example, on the Syrian track or on the Iranian nuclear issue. As for gas, “we support the pipelines that unite, not divide” – evasively explained Yunker.

– Is there any effect from anti-Russian sanctions? If they can influence the policies of the Kremlin? – insisted the participants.

– I will discuss this issue with Vladimir Putin, and his, as far as I can see now is not in the hall awkwardly joked Juncker, who clearly lacked the charisma and artistry Sarkozy.

However, against the truth he not sinned: Putin on the forum, indeed, was not. The first day of SPIEF, the head of state decided to hold in Konstantinovsky Palace, where he took the most distinguished guests.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hinted at what the President is going to talk to Jean-Claude Juncker (when preparing this report, the meeting hasn’t started yet). According to him, the Russian side has conducted an inventory of its relations with the EU and put on paper the facts that characterize the current state of Affairs.

The President, I hope, will offer the Juncker look at each of the sectoral dialogues or not we need them,” said Lavrov. He reminded that Russia was the only country with which the EU held summits twice a year, and “even in the best of times, the question arose: and whether it is necessary so often?”.

In absentia polemizing with Juncker, head of the Russian foreign Ministry stressed that Brussels will not be able to develop relations with Russia only where it is advantageous or necessary: “Such an approach cannot work. Business as usual is not an option. According to Lavrov, confrontation Europe explicitly configures a “Russophobic minority” and the Americans have their own, including economic interests on the continent.

“But we won’t be offended and go into isolation. Intractable problems in our relations with the EU is not optimistic he concluded.

Sanctions . Chronicle of events

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