Q. – What also worries us is Ukraine, and I imagine it worries you. Europe [is] powerless in the face of the threat of civil war that is there, on our doorstep, in Ukraine. How can we ensure the presidential election of 25 May is held? Are you going to take an initiative with Angela Merkel, for example?
THE PRESIDENT – The only goal we must set ourselves is for the presidential election in Ukraine to take place on 25 May.
Q. – And what if it doesn’t take place?
THE PRESIDENT – If it didn’t take place it would be a knockout blow and there would be the risk of civil war. That’s what is at stake.
Q. – But that’s the case, or nearly.
THE PRESIDENT – It’s nearly the case, so there are moments when history is played out. The presidential election has one aim: to enable the president who emerges victorious from the ballot to be legitimate in everyone’s eyes. The Russians, Vladimir Putin, would today like this election not to take place, in order to continue exerting pressure. It’s up to us to persuade him. I’ve also been in contact with Vladimir Putin through indirect channels, to let him know how key this election is for France.
Q. – And what does he say?
THE PRESIDENT – For the moment, I think he must be under pressure.
Q. – Haven’t you spoken to him on the telephone recently?
THE PRESIDENT – I’ve had enough contacts in recent days to know that it’s this question, and this alone, which must now be asked. So the pressure must be exerted by the whole of Europe and by the United States, through sanctions. It’s also in Russia’s interest, because it can’t be regarded as the country that wants to prevent another country, in this case Ukraine, from voting, from expressing through the people the destiny it chooses. On that basis, we Europeans have a duty to be coherent.
I think this raises the whole issue of Europe. Is Europe capable of conveying a simple, single message with sufficient means of pressure – sanctions? Today, France and Germany take this position, and this is what may enable us to have the 25 May election.
Q. – Would a civil war force us to intervene?
THE PRESIDENT – We must do everything to avoid a civil war, because when it starts you never know when it’ll finish. (…)
France has always taken the position of avoiding civil war, avoiding war, but of maintaining the pressure every time. For the past two years, France has lived up to its mission. (…)
We’re a great country. We’re a country that counts on the international arena, in the concert of nations. (…)./.