'US should not dictate to EU regarding Russian sanctions - but it has been'
The French Senate is due to vote on a resolution that calls for the lifting of sanctions imposed on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.
The resolution has already been passed by the French National Assembly, where the vote went through to a storm of cheers and applause.
Although the resolution is not binding, it sends a strong signal of discontent to the French government.
Lawmakers are urging an end to punitive measures against Russia, stressing that Moscow remains a strategic partner for both France and Europe.
They also hope that, in response, Moscow will lift its food embargo on EU products.
Sanctions were imposed on Russia by the European Union and US two years ago over the crisis in Ukraine. They target individuals, as well as the country's economy at large.
In response, Moscow placed an embargo on agriculture imports.
RT: The vote set for today in the French Senate is non-binding but still it is significant that the debates are being held on such a high level. If the resolution is passed to get rid of the sanctions against Russia, will the government listen?
Neil Clark: I hope they will do. And I think it is important because it is the French Senate. What we are seeing – we are seeing across Europe: political parties and forces are challenging these sanctions which are totally disastrous for Europe. They are losing hundreds of billion – they already lost for the EU at a time when the economy is not doing very well, particularly the French economy. I think Francois Hollande, who himself came out last year and said that the sanctions should be lifted if the Minsk agreements were adhered to, which they have been. And I think the pressure is mounting on him when you think of the French political dynamic - with the Front National doing very well, they want the sanctions being lifted, Nicolas Sarkozy calling for the sanctions to be lifted.
Prof. Claude Rochet, Institute of Public Management, Aix-Marseille University (France) told RT: “I expect they won’t release the sanctions because the majority of the Senate is the majority of the Socialist party and the Socialist party is under the influence of the US, NATO and the European Commission, which has… a strong anti-Russian position.”
RT: And France is not alone here. Italy's Liguria region is also set to vote on a similar move to lift Russian sanctions. Giovanni Toti, president of Liguria is saying the measures are suicidal. Seems like local officials are taking matters in their own hands. Will it have any effect EU-wide?
NC: I hope so, Italy is losing three billion euro a year because of the sanctions. The Italian food exporters can’t export to Russia; it’s harming the Italian economy and I would hope that this would have an impact on the EU, but of course it’s the US – we have John McCain, the leading US neocon who was boasting back in February that the EU would lift the sanctions only when we tell them to. Quite outrageous. And we also had have Jean Claude Junker coming out and saying that the EU should not be dictated to on this issue by the US. But it has been.
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