Q. – (…) Is it true that François Hollande is going to have a meeting in Paris on Friday with the new interim Ukrainian President?
THE MINISTER – It hasn’t yet been confirmed. What has been confirmed is that I’ll be having a meeting, just after our programme, with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, who’s here. We’re also in touch with the new President and with Mr Yatsenyuk, the Prime Minister. The question is whether they’ll come to Paris… (…)
France’s position – which is shared by Germany and others – is as follows. On the one hand to be very firm towards Mr Putin and Russia, and on the other to move towards dialogue, because the right solution is political, not military.
Q. – There’s no military solution?
THE MINISTER – No, we’re not going to declare war on the Russians. But what they’re doing is unacceptable, it’s the invasion of one country by another, and it’s contrary to all international laws. To resolve this, there must simply be contact, dialogue. And so we’re trying – particularly with our German friends – to establish this contact group. (…)
Q. – Are you talking this morning about Russian aggression against Ukraine?
THE MINISTER – Of course. Each country has its territorial integrity; when another country – without having been authorized to – enters and sends soldiers into the first country, that’s called a military intervention.
Q. – Have the new authorities in Ukraine and Russia started to talk?
THE MINISTER – Certain Ukrainian and Russian elements. Clearly, the discussion is very difficult, but it’s absolutely necessary.
Q. – In his press conference yesterday, Vladimir Putin said: “if the Russian-speaking, Russophile east of Ukraine collapses into anarchy, use of the armed forces will be legitimate.”
THE MINISTER – No, this was discussed at the United Nations, because there was a meeting. (…) Imagine what it would mean if there were a group inside a country which said: “I don’t want to belong to this country, I’m going to call on another country to come and intervene, this can’t work any longer.” Especially because in this case – and I saw all this with my own eyes – the new authorities in Ukraine are legitimate because they were chosen by Parliament. I talked to Mr Yanukovych, I was with my Polish and German friends…
Q. – Yes, I’m going to return to that much-talked-about night of 20 to 21 February.
THE MINISTER – We reached an agreement which said the following points: a halt to the massacres in Ukraine, which was done. Secondly, a new constitution, which was passed; and thirdly, a new majority and a presidential election. It’s just that Mr Yanukovych then did a runner, and then there was the Russian intervention. So we must return to dialogue and relly bear in mind that Ukraine – given its constitution and its location – must work with both Russia and the European Union; it’s not one or the other, it’s both.
Q. – Sanctions, then – you spoke of sanctions, you had an ultimatum of tomorrow, Thursday: what stage are you at?
THE MINISTER – We’ve already decided specifically on one sanction, which is that the preparation of the G8 in Sochi, Russia, has been suspended until there’s a return to the…
Q. – Suspended…
THE MINISTER – It’s been suspended. That’s been decided and it involves the United States, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.
Secondly, we’ve said there will be sanctions tomorrow – that involves visas, it involves economic talks, it may also involve the assets of a number of oligarchs – unless there’s a de-escalation. And the de-escalation must be accepted by the Russians.
Q. – What does de-escalation mean for you?
THE MINISTER – De-escalation means in particular accepting the contact group for a solution. And France and Germany…
Q. – Accepting the creation of a contact group?
THE MINISTER – …to move towards a solution.
Let me give you some extra information: Germany and France, which are really working together hand in hand, have finalized a draft plan for a solution. And if it’s accepted, we’ll ensure it’s discussed.
Q. – What does this plan for a solution contain?
THE MINISTER – The plan picks up on certain elements of the 21 February agreement: a unity government, the fact that the Russians would withdraw, the fact that if there are extremist militias they’d be dissolved, and the fact that the 2004 constitution should be implemented and there should be a move towards a presidential election. It’s very simple; it picks up on many of the 21 February elements. (…)
Q. – Is it true that the British are rejecting economic sanctions?
THE MINISTER – No, on Monday we had a foreign ministers’ meeting and we adopted, I should say, provisional sanctions, solely in the event of there being no de-escalation, and the British voted; it was a unanimous decision. (…)./.