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President Vladimir Putin. Photo supplied

Macron walks blindly into trap set for Russian leader at press conference

The meeting between the head of state and Vladimir Putin, this Monday at Fort de Brégançon (Var), was presented as that of a defender of democracy against a populist autocrat: the camp of the Good facing the camp of Evil.

Published: August 22, 2019, 10:29 am

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    President Emmanuel Macron met Russian leader Vladimir Putin, but was quickly tackled on the issue of the Yellow Vests. A trap was set for his Russian counterpart, into which the French president himself blindly stepped.

    On the terrace of Fort Brégançon, where Macron and Putin met on Monday, August 19, some sentences were exchanged like missile fire. While everything had been done to relax the atmosphere between the two men, with cosy wooden garden furniture and the sound of cicadas in the background, very clearly heard behind the clatter of the cameras, it was all in vain. The summer decor was evidently not enough.

    Sitting side by side, the two men took part in a press conference of more than 45 minutes, without letting up on some sensitive subjects, and they openly expressed their disagreement in front of the cameras.

    As he had done in Versailles during their first meeting in May 2017, where the fate of homosexuals in Chechnya and the influence of the media had been discussed, it was Emmanuel Macron who opened with the grand ball of individual liberties, dear to France and Europe. Both the flags floated behind him, facing the isolated Russian flag.

    “Russia has its place in the Europe of values,” said the French president, smiling at Vladimir Putin, whose face remained impassive and his eyes fleeting. Facing the electoral gaze and friendly gestures of the first, the visitor seemed all the more indifferent and comfortably seated.

    President Putin easily deflected another sermon on democracy from his French host and said that Moscow would certainly not want Yellow Vest demonstrations in Russia. Macron had told a joint news conference ahead of their meeting that “freedom of protest” should be fully respected in Russia.

    On the Moscow protests, Putin said the government had stuck to the law, and that he did not want the situation to develop like in France.

    “We all know about the events linked to the so-called Yellow Vests during which, according to our calculations, 11 people were killed and 2 500 injured,” Putin said. “We wouldn’t want such events to take place in the Russian capital and will do all we can to ensure our domestic political situation evolved strictly in the framework of the law.”

    During his visit to Brégançon, Putin was questioned about the absence of Russia in the G7. The Russian president phlegmatically replied that he could not participate in a format that “does not exist”. He said: “How can I return to an organisation that does not exist? Today it is the G7 that exists.”

    In March 2014, in the wake of the annexation of Crimea to Russia , the seven nations (Germany, Canada, United States, France, Italy, Japan and the Kingdom United Kingdom), voted to exclude Russia, turning the G8 into G7. The seven are expected to meet in Biarritz, southwestern France, from August 24 to 26 with tensions running high over US involvement in various trade disputes.

    Putin at least showed concern for the protection of his people and his culture in the face of globalisation and the ideologues of “diversity”. This new religion promises heaven on earth, including by coercion, as communism once did.

    When Macron declared on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the landing of the African army in Provence: “France has a part of Africa in it”, his comments were much more than a homage to the 350 000 Africans who had helped liberate the country. With this sentence, he invited all Africans to feel at home in France.

    Already in 2018, he said: “When I speak French, I speak our French languages, its epicenter is neither to the right nor to the left of the Seine, it is undoubtedly in the basin of the Congo.” This speech is labeled by “progressives” as a refutation of the Great Replacement on the grounds that peoples are easily replaceable.

    In doing so, Macron continues to mistreat French citizens who suffer from feeling estranged in their own country, under the pressure of encouraged immigration.

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