Europe needs to strive for better relations with Russia in the long term, French President Emmanuel Macron said Saturday, adding that while he isn’t proposing lifting sanctions they have changed nothing about Russia’s behaviour, reports The Associated Press.
Macron told the Munich Security Conference that a “credible” approach to dealing with Russia would be to take the line that “we are demanding, we are giving no ground in our principles on frozen conflicts, but will re-engage in a strategic dialogue, which will take time.”
Relations between European Union countries and Moscow have been strained since Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and fighting broke out between Kyiv and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. That festering military conflict has left over 14,000 dead since then. The US and the European Union slapped sanctions on Russia for its actions in Ukraine.
French companies who are engaged in trade with Russia have pressured Macron to help repair the EU’s relations with Moscow and to ease economic sanctions.
During a visit to Poland this month, Macron said it was a “a major error to distance ourselves from a part of Europe that we don’t feel comfortable about.”
On Saturday, he said the result of recent years is “a totally inefficient system.” That includes “sanctions that have changed absolutely nothing in Russia. I am not proposing at all to lift them, I am just stating this,” he added.