A year after Russia reset, France sees no concrete results: minister

FILE PHOTO: French Defence Minister Florence Parly leaves the Elysee Presidential Palace after a weekly cabinet meeting, in Paris, France May 27, 2020 as France eases lockdown measures taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s efforts to nurture a new relationship with Russia over the last year to bring Moscow back into the fold of leading industrialised nations has yet to yield any results, Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said on Thursday.

French President Emmanuel Macron has said that alienating Russia was “a profound strategic mistake” and wants Moscow’s help to solve the world’s most intractable crises, while reducing the distrust between Russia, NATO and the EU.

He sent his defence and foreign ministers to Moscow in September, ending a four-year freeze on such high-level diplomatic visits, and appointed a special envoy to make progress on a so-called five-point structured dialogue that he proposed to President Vladimir Putin.

“If the question is: have there been concrete results in the dialogue that France initiated with Russia, I’ll answer sincerely that it is still not the case,” Parly told a European parliament hearing.

Macron’s efforts have upset other EU governments, particularly those in the east that escaped Moscow’s orbit after the Cold War. They say little has changed to merit a thaw in relations on ice since Russian intervention in Ukraine in 2014.

Parly said Russia’s role in Libya, where it has supported eastern fighters against the Tripoli government, was also a threat to the European Union.

“We aren’t happy about this role ... but in our efforts to reach a ceasefire in Libya, we need to talk with Russia. Libya isn’t the only domain where that discussion is necessary, she said.”

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Peter Graff