‘Europe must come to grips with reality & start building bridges’ – France’s ex-PM (RT EXCLUSIVE)
Following the release of his latest book A Reminder of Peace in Wartime last month, Dominique de Villepin, who has served France in a variety of leading positions, including as prime minister and foreign minister in the government of Jacques Chirac, has spoken to RT France. He believes that international relations today are paralyzed by a lack of dialogue – a crisis which Europe is able to change.
“One of the biggest mistakes made in recent years is the cessation of all dialogue. You cannot hope for peace and stability on the world stage if you impose sanctions with such ease, isolating and pushing others aside. The deterrence policy pursued by the United States and Europe with regard to Russia and China is essentially a strategic mistake, which stems from a misunderstanding of the real international situation. In the case of the mentioned regimes, it does not lead to anything other than them tightening their positions,” the politician believes.
“We have punished our farmers [with sanctions against Russia]. What for? For what results? Can sanctions change Russian policies? We live in a time when sanctions, branding, and penalties, on the contrary, paralyze the balance of power, and sometimes reinforce the relationship between the people and their authorities. Never before has Russia stood so united around its leader,” Villepin noted.
France’s former PM stated that, instead of pushing for military intervention in crisis-stricken regions and pursuing deterrence policies, Europe should build up dialogues and cooperate, especially in the face of the global threat posed by international terrorism.
“We ought to establish contacts. That is the only way to act: to establish a dialogue and cooperate, even if it is difficult. The only way that really allows you to reach an agreement is diplomacy.
“Now we have gained momentum, we have a historic reason for uniting efforts in the world arena – especially for major powers, which are the target of terrorists. There is a perception in Europe and the US that terrorism is a threat only to Western countries. This is a profound mistake. Russia, China, India, and Turkey have also been affected. And, first of all it, affected the Muslim countries themselves. That’s how much reason we have not to resort to military methods.”
NATO’s eastward expansion causes fear & misunderstanding
Villepin says he does not believe in the war against terrorism that was launched by the United States following attacks in 2001, noting it is “not a real cooperation.” He also accepts that the current global state of affairs has been brought on by the refusal of European and Western democracies to pursue political and diplomatic avenues to resolve conflicts, while opting for military force instead.
“NATO’s eastward expansion and the prospect of placing missiles in Romania and Poland – the US ballistic shield – all this has caused fear and led to misunderstanding. We need to return to decisions that can create an atmosphere of trust. I really believe that Russia and Europe have common interests; we can establish a true partnership. And our partnership can be of good service to other people.
“It is impossible to solve the Iraqi and Syrian issues without Russia’s participation. Let’s make it a priority to care about other peoples. Let’s make sure that our joint efforts have helped, for a start, to at least partly alleviate the situation in Aleppo, Raqqa, and Mosul. And gradually… we will come to recreate the atmosphere of trust that is a prerequisite for effective diplomacy. This is only possible through a joint initiative,” France’s former prime minister stated.
Ukraine is a failed state, but Russia and Europe can change this together
Villepin noted that, despite the fears in Eastern Europe regarding allegations that Russia is building up its military in the region and NATO’s “responses” to this, Russia has been gaining allies on the continent. This trend should be harnessed to create a relationship of trust, as opposed to the current situation, in which Russia is considered an “aggressor,” he said.
“Russia has been earning points in Central and Eastern Europe. The new president of Moldova is pro-Russian, the newly elected president of Bulgaria is also Russia-oriented. Amazing changes are taking place in the Baltic countries. This momentum should be used to build the atmosphere of trust again. We must embark on this with great enthusiasm and imagination, and base our efforts on common interests,” the politician said, noting that many issues can be solved only through cooperation between Russia and the EU, such as the situation in Ukraine
“Ukraine [is a] case [where] our interests intersect. And there will be even more. If you look in the face of reality, modern-day Ukraine is a failed state which is decaying. It is an unstable structure which has no future. The economic and financial situation in Ukraine is catastrophic. There are only two forces that can stop this breakdown – Russia and Europe. If we agree, we will probably be able to help Ukraine overcome this negative trend, proposing reforms that would be beneficial to all of us,” Villepen said.
Trump is pragmatic – good for business & politics
The former French prime minister noted that the results of the US elections has left him hopeful that Washington is about to have a pragmatic leader who will enter into impartial dialogue with other world powers with the aim of finding mutual understanding with them.
“I want to believe that, in international politics, [Donald Trump] will show at least one of the qualities, characteristic of him as a businessman – his pragmatism. I think today we have to be realistic and pragmatic.
“I hope [Trump] will be able to discard the illusions and lead an unbiased dialogue, which will be based on the desire to find common ground and understanding with the international community,” the politician told RT France, noting that Trump should learn from the mistakes of America’s current leader, Barack Obama, who, despite taking a number of steps in this direction, was unable to change Washington’s inclination to employ military force. He also praised Trump for noting that Washington cannot solve Europe’s problems indefinitely and that Europe has to have military power of its own. Villepen said it really is high time that Europe was more independent and, perhaps if Trump sticks to his position, Europe will be forced to become so.
Fillon’s win in primaries shows the right wing & France have a chance
Regarding France’s upcoming presidential elections, the former PM said he is rather optimistic about the outcome.
“I think the new layout [of powers] is a positive trend. It gives us a perspective and changes the situation in French politics.
“…The French are concerned. The people feel excluded from the social policy pursued in France, which will play a key role in their decision-making. To attract this electorate is within the power of either the National Front or Francois Fillon, who will hear the people and begin to carry out innovative policy… that will give confidence back to the French who no longer find their place in French society.”
Villepen says Francois Fillon, a right-wing politician who recently won the primary race to become the presidential candidate of France’s The Republicans Party, has every chance of securing the post.
“The fact that Francois Fillon won the primary election means that the right wing and France have a real chance. Why? During the fair and transparent elections, Francois Fillon was able to achieve unity. Unity around his personality and a unified vision of his policy… Francois Fillon believes in politics.
“Francois Fillon believes in the power of diplomacy. He believes that, with the help of diplomacy, one can make a difference – that military action alone is never enough.
“I am convinced that the right-wing forces in France can produce a cultural revolution [and] adapt both in domestic and in foreign policy,” the politician suggested, noting that as it’s time “tostart a revolution of thought” in France. He also said that current left-wing President Francois Hollande’s decision not to run for a second term was praiseworthy.
“Francois Hollande had the courage to face reality. The policy, which was applied during the previous four years, does not give him the opportunity to seriously count on the fact that the population will elect him.
“The failure of economic policy, of the reforms undertaken in recent years, which have not been sufficient; the failure of French diplomacy, which has solved issues only by military means – this should get the left to think deeply and begin changes. Due to the lack of results, which has undermined public confidence in [the leader] in many areas, [Hollande’s] decision was justified,” he said.
Europe should open its eyes, come to grips with reality
Villepen said he believes in European unity, but says this unity has been undermined by the inability of European leaders to act and solve crises in unison.
“My faith in the European ideal is deep. However, this ideal has been betrayed – betrayed because of nervousness, political heat, fear and anger, because Europe has ceased to be true to itself.
“Political heat is bad in itself – it is fear and anger. We have witnessed this in the case of the UK exiting from the European Union. We have also witnessed the presidential elections in Austria.
“…In general, European nations are experiencing anxiety and uncertainty. This is because Europe is not moving forward, does not make decisions. It is paralyzed and restless. European leaders fail to act,” Villepen said.
The veteran diplomat stressed that, in order for Europe to survive, it needs to “come to grips with reality” and start solving problems.
“These problems are not insoluble. The question of Brexit is solvable – there is a way to take into account both the interests of the UK and those of the rest of Europe. The Ukrainian question also can be solved. We can move forward in a dialogue with Russia, so that the Ukrainian people do not suffer, so that they have hope, and so that both the Russian and European economies pick up again.
“Europe should open its eyes. It must be able to secure ties, build bridges, to think about the common future of our planet. This implies that we need to extend a helping hand and have a vision of the world that we lack today. We are driven by fear, and fear is a bad adviser. Fear causes us to toughen our rhetoric, adopt a more uncompromising stance, and go to war. And in my opinion, we need to do exactly the opposite. We must extend a helping hand and contribute to and relate to the world with trust and creativity,” Villepen stated.