Russia expects no turn in relations with France

Nicolas Sarkozy and Sagolene Royal are steping-up their campaigns following success in Sunday's first round vote in the French presidential elections. Will Russian-French relations take a different turn if one of the two candidates wins?

Experts in Russia suggest that its position in France's foreign priorities list is secure.

“For Russia to my mind any result of the presidential elections in France will be a kind of win-win situation because the agenda of the French- Russian relations is so wide and so deep that any presidential candidate and any president after his or her success in the second round of the elections will face the same challenge that Angela Merkel faced in Germany,” believes Mikhail Margelov, Head of Russian Federal Council committee on foreign affairs.

Both Mr Sarcozy and Ms Royal come from a new generation of politicians. And this presidential campaign is much about personalities. The current president Jaques Chirac belonged to the General De Gualle guard. Mr Chirac has had his soft spot for Russia and relations between the two countries were influenced by that.

Some of the latest remarks by Mr Sarkozy about Russia made many wonder if relations with France could take a different turn. But Russian experts say it is economy and mainly energy that will keep the countries turned towards each other.

“France is still dependent on energy resources and it will be dependent for a long time until alternative sources are found. So both Sarcozy and Royal can say what they want about alternative atomic energy, but until that time they need Russian oil and Russian gas,” claims Evgenia Obichkina from the Moscow State Institute of Foreign Relations.

Despite months of frenzied campaigning millions in France are still uncertain whom they will vote for in the end. But one thing is clear: they expect the new president to concentrate on their own country, and international relations could come later.