Sanctions against Russia are ‘economic weapon’ that targets French business

Flags of Russia, the EU and France. (RIA Novosti / Vladimir Sergeev)
French and Russian business leaders say the economy and policy must be separated, as Western sanctions against Russia are causing French companies to suffer by losing market share.

Politics can go against the interests of countries that seek to strengthen economic ties, in the case of France and Russia, both countries have to work in that strengthening direction, says Michelle Assouline of the Movement of the Enterprises of France (MEDEF).

“It turns out that political decisions transform into an economic weapon. The sanctions that seem to be directed against Russia, are directed against French companies," she explained at a round table entitled "Reliable business cooperation. Russia out of the conjuncture” held on Wednesday in Paris.

Vladimir Yakunin, the CEO of Russian Railways also took part in the round table and stressed that “economy and politics should be separated from the standpoint of ideological implementation.”

“The most important thing is that we feel optimistic about the future and are eager to implement new projects,” he said.

The businessmen discussed the prospects of Franco-Russian cooperation in various sectors of economy, from banking to the restaurant business. All the participants, including policymakers, agreed that sanctions are counter-productive, and the only thing they do is destroying healthy economic relations.

"The sanctions were imposed and suggested by bureaucrats, politicians. In fact, Europe doesn’t agree with how the sanctions are applied,” Claude Goasgen, the mayor of 16th district of Paris, said.

One of the issues discussed was the delivery of Mistral-class helicopter carriers to Russia. Members of French National assembly suggest the situation proves France is unreliable in conducting international affairs.

"I am very unhappy with the fact that France has decided not to supply Mistral ships to Russia,” said Sanches Encerra, a member of National Assembly. “I think this is a mistake from all points of view. This undermines the credibility of France as a reliable partner, and we, the deputies, strongly promote the idea that sanctions are quite a harmful phenomenon.”

READ MORE: Russia may sanction French companies over Mistral non-delivery – media

In a separate interview with RT Maurizio Patarnello, CEO of Nestle, Russia, said no sanctions can undermine the relations between Russia and his company that last more than 40 years.

“It’s not a purely financial calculation, there is also the fact we want to supply our products to Russian consumers,” he said adding that at the same time it’s extremely difficult to give forecasts, as there are so many factors that are not in the hands of Russia.

Talking about a possible increase in investment Patarnello said it will depend on the course of events, as now “having a return on investment is more challenging.”

“If we continue to experience growth in a category, we will continue to invest. Should we not have a growth, because the consumer may cut back on their consumption and expenses, and then we’ll of course have to review our investment plans,” he said.