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Ukraine/Russia

Published on August 22, 2014
Interview given by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, to the daily newspaper Le Monde
Paris, August 21, 2014

Q. – Regarding Ukraine, there have been three rounds of sanctions against Russia, but Vladimir Putin hasn’t changed his stance. What should we do?

THE PRESIDENT – Firmness and dialogue are needed. Firmness [because] Europe can’t agree to a country’s territorial integrity being jeopardized, because it can’t tolerate arms deliveries and the blockading of border posts. The sanctions were necessary, and more will be needed unless things change.

But at the same time there’s a need for dialogue. I showed this by organizing the first meeting between Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko, in Normandy on 6 June. And we’re at a point where another meeting can be envisaged between the Ukrainian, Russian, French and German heads of government, to find a solution to the crisis. This presupposes a halt to arms deliveries, a ceasefire, supervision of the border, and political dialogue. Angela Merkel is going to Ukraine on Saturday. We talked on 12 August. I told her that unless there’s a swift solution to the crisis, it’ll be very costly for the Russians, at both economic and political level.

Q. – Is it proving costly for the Europeans too?

THE PRESIDENT – Yes. Sanctions have a cost for those who impose them as well as those who undergo them. It’s a choice Europe is taking on board, even though the situation is having unpleasant consequences economically. All the more reason to find solutions based on respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty.

Q. – Were you expecting the Russian sanctions on agricultural produce?

THE PRESIDENT – There was already an embargo on pork and certain [other] produce, on the pretext of very dubious health arguments.
Farmers who are suffering the impact of this require compensation.

Q. – France is going to deliver a Mistral-type warship this autumn. What will happen with the second vessel, expected for 2015?

THE PRESIDENT – The level of sanctions doesn’t currently prevent the delivery. It was the Europeans who decided this, not France. If additional tension were to emerge and a solution couldn’t be found, we’d have to deliberate. But for the moment, that’s not the case. Let me remind you that the contract was signed in 2011 and was the subject of controversy at the time.

Q. – What about the two ships on option?

THE PRESIDENT – On the other two Mistrals, no talks are under way with the Russians./.

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