French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday defended his policy of dialogue with Russia, which has attacked Ukrainesaying that Turkey should not be the only country talking to Moscow, and that preparations for peace talks should be underway now.
Macron has spoken repeatedly with Russian President Vladimir Putin since Moscow invaded Ukraine in February; their last conversation after a long break took place on August 19.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with whom Macron has a strained relationship, is actively seeking to play a mediating role and has personally met with both Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“Who wants Turkey to be the only world power that continues to talk to Russia?” – said the president at the meeting of French ambassadors held at the Elysée Palace. “We cannot surrender to any form of false morality that renders us powerless.”
“The job of a diplomat is to talk to everyone, especially people with whom we disagree. Therefore, we will continue to do it, coordinating actions with our allies”, said E. Macron.
He said that the world’s powerful states should now prepare for “peace talks” that would end the war that has lasted for more than half a year, but emphasized that Kyiv must decide on the time and conditions.
“We have to prepare for a long war. We must avoid escalation and lay the foundations for peace,” he said. “Laying the foundations for peace means talking to all sides, including, as I did a few days ago and will do again, with Russia.”
He said the negotiated peace would not be on terms “that would have been imposed on Ukraine if we had left it to its own devices.”
Mr. Macron said that Western military aid to Ukraine, including that of France, allowed the country to withstand the Russian invasion much more effectively than many experts and Russia had predicted.
“We are not in a war, we don’t want it,” he said, repeating an argument he had used since the early days of the war. “However, we cannot allow Russia to win this war by occupying territory militarily and at the same time aggressively demonstrating that the international order and our values are losing.”
He also warned that Europe must remain united, noting that some countries are calling for a more militant stance or considering unilateral measures.
“We cannot allow this war to divide Europe. European unity is paramount. The division of Europe is one of the goals of Russia’s war,” he said.