French politician Thierry Mariani

Nord Stream 2 is a good opportunity for Europe to diversify its sources of gas supplies. A member of the European Parliament’s Committee on International Affairs (AFET), French politician Thierry Mariani said this to Izvestia.… In an interview that the deputy gave to Izvestia in Moscow at the conference “The role of civil society in ensuring democratic standards for organizing and holding elections,” he also shared his thoughts on the new Brussels strategy towards Moscow and the prospects for the Russia-EU summit… At the same time, the politician emphasized: he participated in the conference without representing the European Parliament, but acted as a private person.

“We are not at war with Russia”

– In early September, on the eve of the plenary session, the political groups of the European Parliament agreed on a report on how the MPs see the EU’s relations with Russia. According to the representative of the European People’s Party (the largest faction of the EP) Daniel Koster, the document “uses a very strong vocabulary.” Do you know the details of this report and how do you assess it?

– This is the report of Mr. Kubilius (Andrius Kubilius, member of the AFET committee, Lithuanian politician – Izvestia), there is nothing new in it. In fact, this document helps to keep the EU’s relations with Russia at the level of a conditional Cold which Europe talks about an imaginary threat at its borders and, under pressure from a certain lobby, demands new sanctions.

Фото: TASS / EPA / Guillaume Horcajuelo

For me, this report looks surreal – we are not at war with Russia.… What we are fighting in Europe is, for example, Islamism. But we see how some politicians just add fuel to the fire… I regret this report and, of course, I will not vote for it, because I am sure that we need to look for opportunities for dialogue with Russia, and continuing to follow the current path is simply dangerous for the world.

– This summer, the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, announced a new EU strategy towards the Russian Federation. It includes three elements: repulsion, containment, and interact. Should we expect more specifics and how do you perceive this approach to contacts with Moscow?

– In fact, it is a confrontation strategy that is not directly discussed… Confrontation and sanctions. There are some countries that are contributing to this. My country, France, for example, is the only state in Europe that has maintained a quarantine regime for people who, without being vaccinated, come from Russia. They must spend 10 days in self-isolation. In these conditions, it becomes difficult to interact with Russian students, for example.

As for the words of Mr. Borrel, then, frankly, I do not see anything new in them. His visit to Moscow, which he made a few months ago, was a rather daring act. But the problem is that he came without any new ideas or suggestions. His trip was heavily criticized by MEPs. Today, the old strategy is being put into new words, and this is a confrontational approach.

I do not think that something new will be formulated in the near future, – in this sense I am a pessimist.

Joseph Borrell

ото: REUTERS/Julien Warnand

– Also in June of this year, Germany and France proposed to hold a Russia-EU summit. What are the prospects for such a meeting – can the EU resume discussions on this issue now?

– I’m not a supporter of the master [Эммануэля] Macron (President of France – Izvestia), but it was a good initiative. It is impossible for bilateral relations to remain at this level indefinitely. We are neighbors, we have common interests, and therefore the German-French initiative is a step in the right direction.… What is needed is a summit where everyone is ready to talk, not a meeting of the deaf, when everyone continues to bend his own line and when Europe, in particular, continues to add new restrictions to the existing sanctions.

“This project is in the interests of Europe”

– The construction of Nord Stream 2 was recently completed, and the launch of this gas pipeline already looks inevitable. How did you take this news?

– With pleasure, because this project is in the interests of Europe. As a Frenchman, I would like to make a small remark: the approach of madam [Ангелы] Merkel (German Chancellor – Izvestia) and the Germans are exceptional. They participate in sanctions policy, but when their interests are threatened, they adhere to their own strategy.… I’ll draw a parallel: France lacks the spirit to defend its interests – remember the situation around the Mistral-class shipsthat we sold to Russia; after the sanctions were imposed, we refused to put them. The Germans, on the other hand, adhere to the sanctions and at the same time continue to conduct business as usual – business as usual.

That’s why I express my admiration to Mrs. Merkel – she thinks first of all about her country… And I would like Mr. Macron to do the same when it comes to French interests.

Фото: REUTERS/Nord Stream 2/Axel Schmidt

As of today, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline has been completed. Now Europe has another fuel supply channel, and we should be happy about that. Europe can take gas wherever it wants, but diversification of sources is a very important point… I know that all those who adhered to the American positions regarding this project and who spoke about its consequences for the environment, insisting on the supply of liquefied natural gas from the United States, will be very saddened.

But I am personally very glad that work on Nord Stream 2 has been completed, and I say “Bravo!” Mrs Merkel… And everyone who stands up for European independence should applaud this project – we now have another source of resources. After all, you can always turn the valve and stop deliveries.

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