EU ‘dancing on edge of volcano’ with Ukraine – French ex-president
It’s high time for the EU to abandon its emotionally driven policies on Ukraine and start talking about achieving peace, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has suggested.
In an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche on Saturday, Sarkozy criticized Brussels for its involvement in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which has included sweeping sanctions on Moscow, weapons deliveries to Kiev, and calls for a military solution to the crisis.
“The European Commission is primarily an administrative body. Moreover, I still haven’t understood under which article of the European treaties [the body’s president Ursula] von der Leyen justifies her competence in the field of arms purchases and foreign policy,” he said.
“The only thing the Europeans are hearing now is more and more billions of euros being spent on the purchase of weapons. More weapons, more deaths, more war,” the 67-year-old politician added.
The EU’s policy regarding the conflict in Ukraine is driven by “miscalculation, exaltation, anger, superficial reactions,” and because of this “we’re dancing at the edge of a volcano,” said Sarkozy, who was the president of France between 2007 and 2012.
The bloc was right to condemn Russia and show solidarity with Ukraine, but it also needs to exercise “composure” and work to prevent the escalation of the conflict, he added. “It’s high time for serious initiatives to be taken to start talking about the future and peace.”
Sarkozy also criticized Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky for signing a decree earlier this month, which officially made it “impossible” for him to hold talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
Such a stance amounted to “demanding a regime change in Moscow,” the veteran politician pointed out. “I consider this to be a dangerous leap into the unknown, although it’s understandable that it’s difficult for the Ukrainian president to talk to Putin,” he said.
Moscow, which has repeatedly invited Kiev to come to the negotiating table in recent months, has blamed the Ukrainian side for undermining any potential for a peaceful settlement of the crisis. It has also repeatedly condemned the deliveries of weapons to Zelensky’s government by the US, EU, UK and some other countries, arguing that they won’t change the outcome of the conflict, but will prolong the fighting and increase the risk of a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO.
Zelensky previously set out the only conditions under which negotiations with Russia would be possible: “They can return our territory back to us if they want negotiations. They must withdraw from our territory and leave us our land within the internationally recognized borders of 1991. And then we will say in what format and with whom we are ready to talk.”