Interview with Aleksandr Pikaev
Russia Today: How do you believe the campaign has gone – what is the choice that French voters have to make today?
Aleksandr Pikaev: Some experts say that these are elections without choice as many people didn't vote for any of the candidates during the first round. Instead, they voted for alternative candidates that weren't able to pass into the second round and, therefore, it is interesting who such voters would choose. But on the other hand, there is a certain difference between the candidates. Mr Sarkozy represents conservative part of the French society, which wants to make France more competitive and, as a result, less social oriented. While Segolene Royal, a candidate from the French Socialist Party, promises to make France a centre of the socialist Europe. So you can imagine the mixed feelings some French voters share about this prospect.
RT: How will French policy towards EU change after elections? What candidate is most suitable for Brussels?
A.P.: Both candidates are quite negative about Turkish accession to the European Union. Sarkozy, though, is much more straightforward. He says that Turkey is an Asian nation and should not be a part of the European Union. Segolene Royal, in her turn, says the EU should find a sort of association with Turkey. But in Brussels Mr Sarkozy looks more appropriate and Mr Barroso is his fellow conservative as he represents Portuguese conservative forces. Some time ago he invited Mr Sarkozy to Brussels and the reception was very warm. Mr Barroso also met with Ms Royal but the meeting was not that productive.
RT: Speaking about French-Russian relations, is there a possibility of drastic changes in French policy towards Russia under a new President?
A.P.: There are concerns about that. Some say the incumbent French President Jacque Chirac is a Russophile. He loves Russia and even translated Aleksandr Pushkin in his youth, so he has a warm attitude towards Russia. However, Mr Sarkozy comes from the family of emigrants from Hungary. Such people are normally very critical towards Russia. While Segolene Royal says human rights issues are a top priority for her, so if she is elected the relations between the countries might be marred by human rights disagreements. However, I think, international relations are driven not by personal friendship but by national interests and here there is an objective overlapping of interests between Russia and France. Therefore, no matter who wins the elections, Russian-French relation, after a period of adaptation, would go as they are going now.