‘France should become Europe's leader in ending Russian sanctions’

© Charles Platiau
Sanctions is a wooden weapon. We know from history since before Napoleon that they never work, Jean-Pierre Thomas, former adviser to Nicolas Sarkozy told RT. The European community now has a good opportunity to end the sanctions in June, he added.

The French National Assembly has backed lifting sanctions on Russia after bringing the issue to parliament.

READ MORE: ‘Disenchantment in France as Russian sanctions backfire’

RT: The debate on canceling the sanctions was held at the National Assembly for the first time. Does that mean there's a shift in French politics?

Jean-Pierre Thomas: What happened in the National Assembly is very important because it is the first time when politically the National French assembly voted on this subject. It is a big indication about the new debate in France, not only for the business community, but the majority of French people who against sanctions. The majority was obtained in favor of cancelling the sanctions against Russia with Republican and lot of socialists didn’t take part in the vote because they didn’t want to be involved, but in fact a lot of them were in favor of the end of these sanctions, too. So, it is a good sign and I hope it will push to the suspension or the end of the sanctions in this window of June. The European community has an opportunity to go out of these sanctions in June. 

RT: Do the results of the vote have any influence on President Hollande’s position on sanctions against Russia?

JPT: Not only in France, but in different countries in Europe there is a big difference between public opinion with a big majority in favor of cancelling the sanctions, especially in France where the agricultural people and farmers suffer from the sanctions. And the majority of businessmen also welcome this because they want to work. And the majority of the people in France, but also in different countries in Europe, are in favor to start again good relations, economically speaking, with our friend and historic partner Russia.

But at the same time the media, I would say, the Parisian establishment is in favor of the sanctions, but they are in a minority. So, this majority vote in the National Assembly is a good sign and I hope it will be a push on the political authorities in France. I would like that France will follow the National Assembly – that is a democracy. We spend a lot of time speaking about democracy. So, majority of the National Assembly is in favor of the end of sanctions and the French government is not obliged to, but they should follow this vote and in June be the leader in Europe of the end of the sanctions. 

 “Even if it is not compulsory, this is the atmosphere in the French parliament saying that the French people do not support any more sanctions against Russia. That is why it is an important move. I am sure this will influence the EU parliament and the leaders of the European Union.”

           - Former adviser for French Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior Alain Corvez

RT: Overall, do you think the policy of sanctions are effective?

JPT: The economy in France is suffering. We can see that this is 0.5 on the GDP growth, which is worsened by the sanctions. The farmers, agriculture industry is suffering a lot. And on the Russian side it is negative on growth and the speed of development. But on the Russian side there is a one positive aspect: when I go to Russia I observe that under sanctions Russia is recreating capacity of transformation, it is obvious in agriculture in agriculture and in industry, too. Sanctions is a wooden weapon. We know from history since before Napoleon that sanctions never work… So, it is completely inefficient.   

RT: What about the timing, why was this vote held now?

JPT: June is a good window and a good opportunity to get out of sanctions. The United States is in the process of elections, so they will not take any decision on that in June, in my opinion. Second, Europe now is evaluating the French vote in the National Assembly, which shows the state of the public opinion to its elected representatives and a lot of countries: Italy, Spain, Bulgaria, Hungary and a lot of political leaders and economists are speaking more and more to stop the sanctions. So, I think the timing of this vote now is a good timing because we have now the time to organize the lobbying to end these useless sanctions.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.