On May 29 Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin started his two-week visit to France. Putin will have negotiations with his counterpart Francois Fillon and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Putin’s visit to France takes place at a crucial moment of the development of relations between Moscow and the European Union, Dmitry Danilov, the head of the European defense of the Institute of Europe RAN, believes.
The expert reminded that France would become the chairing state of the European Union on July 1, 2008. “France’s attitude will be of great importance in signing a new framework agreement between Russia and the European Union,” Dmitry Danilov said.
May 26 at the Brussels meeting of finance ministers of the EU countries a mandate was approved to start a new basic agreement between Russia and the European Union. The talks will start on the sideline of the Russia-EU summit in late June. The European Commission will act on behalf of the EU, and on the behalf of Russia there will be Vladimir Chizhov, Russian deputy chairman in the EU. According to European Affairs Secretary Jean-Pierre Jouyet, “the negotiations on the basic agreement may take a year or a year and a half.”
Dmitry Danilov agreed that the negotiations between Russia and the EU would be difficult.
“One of the most difficult issues on the agenda will be the EU Energy Charter that Russia refuses to sign under conditions imposed by Western countries,” he added.
“That’s why Moscow hopes that when France presides in the EU, it will persuade other countries to reach a compromise with Moscow,” the official said.
According to the expert, “the successful development of Russian-French relations will facilitate four common areas in Russia and the EU: economy, justice, external security, as well as science and technology. During France’s presidency at the EU Russia’s priorities will be the discussion of reciprocal non-visa regime for traveling for citizens of Russia and EU countries; the agreement on cooperation in concerted anti-crisis operations; Russia’s entry into the WTO,” Danilov added.
According to Danilov, Putin’s visit is also important for the development of bilateral ties. “Today France is one of Russia’s major partners in Europe, and moreover, together with Germany it is a facilitator of the European integration,” the expert considers. According to him, the entry of the French automobile giant Renault into the Russian market is a brilliant example of successful economic cooperation of the two countries.
In late February the President of Renault, Carlos Gon, and General Director of Rostechnologies State Corporation, Sergei Chemezov, who also leads the board of directors of Avtovaz (Russia’s biggest automobile enterpruse) signed an agreement on strategic partnership between the two companies.
According to another agreement, France purchased the blocking shareholding of Avtovaz (25 percent plus a share) for one billion dollars.
“Thanks to French investments a cooperative car will appear in Russia in the summer of 2009. We set ourselves a goal to make this project lucrative on the global market,” Dmitry Danilov underlined.
The Russian-French cooperation in the automobile industry will play an important role in upgrading the Russian car industry. Another area for Russian-French cooperation is space exploration.
“During the talks in Paris Vladimir Putin is very likely to discuss the idea of launching Russian Soyuz missile carriers from the French cosmodrome Kourou,” Danilov added.
Translated by Julia Bulygina