Q. – Wasn’t it a mistake for us to cancel the G8 summit in Sochi? There would have been seven of us arguing against Russia alone; it might have given ground.
THE MINISTER – No, I think we were right, because the G8 is [based on] an agreement on common international standards, on common ways of proceeding. What Russia has done in Crimea is a violation of the international rules, it’s a challenge to all borders. So we must act accordingly. That in no way means at all that we break off relations with Russia. We have relations – at the moment I’m often talking on the phone to my colleague Mr Lavrov – but we must move towards a de-escalation and flag up what we don’t accept.
Q. – Are you maintaining your threat not to deliver to the Russians the military ships we sold them?
THE MINISTER – There’s a commercial contract which is currently running as normal between the Russian buyer and the French manufacturer. France will have to take its decision in October about whether or not to authorize the export. We think that in October the circumstances will have changed.
Q. – The circumstances will have changed, but will they be favourable? One gets the impression that the ultra-nationalists in Ukraine are gaining a hold over the country.
THE MINISTER – No, I don’t think so. Mr Yatsenyuk, the Prime Minister, is a very serious-minded man. There must be progress towards the free and transparent presidential election on 25 May. As soon as a new president is elected, a new legitimate government, we’re going to help it economically. From then on, Ukraine should be able to resume normal relations with the various countries.
Q. – Vladimir Putin is due to come to France in the spring; is he still welcome?
THE MINISTER – We’re going to talk to the Russians to determine whether that visit, at that time, is appropriate, or whether there’s another more appropriate time. Anyway, he’s coming to France in June because there’s the war commemoration.
Q. – And in that respect, the Russians won’t hold these commemorations hostage, so to speak?
THE MINISTER – No, I believe it’s a tribute which must be paid to soldiers in history. It’s only right that the various nations and their leaders are there to pay tribute and say, “never again”. (…)./.