EInterviews with Joe Biden and Vladimir Poutine, all-out consultations… Emmanuel Macron is donning the mantle of president-diplomat regarding the Ukrainian crisis, thus delaying his entry into the running for the presidential election to the chagrin of his rivals. More than ever, the Head of State placed himself above the electoral campaign on Thursday.
From the Elysee, Emmanuel Macron spoke on the phone with his Russian counterparts Vladimir Putin for forty-five minutes, Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelensky for about an hour and Polish Andrzej Duda after speaking to US President Joe Biden late Wednesday. At the end of this meeting, the Kremlin welcomed “a constructive dialogue” both on Ukraine and on “the Russian initiative to establish long-term legal guarantees concerning the security of the Russian Federation”.
The intense diplomatic activity of the French head of state should continue in the coming days since he “does not rule out” going to Moscow, and perhaps Kiev. Emmanuel Macron is “convinced” of the “necessity” to have a “direct dialogue” with Vladimir Poutine because “it allows for progress”, we explain at the Elysée.
His candidacy announcement linked to the evolution of this “geopolitical crisis”
Emmanuel Macron also highlights the responsibility incumbent on France in its capacity as President of the Council of the European Union until June, a function allowing it to launch initiatives on behalf of the 27 member countries. He discussed it Thursday morning during a videoconference with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel.
This voluntarism is reminiscent of that shown in 2008, during the last rotating presidency exercised by France, Nicolas Sarkozy, who had set himself up as a mediator between Russia and Georgia during the lightning war in South Ossetia. His management of the crisis was then widely praised in France. So far, political criticism remains muted on the diplomatic initiatives undertaken by Emmanuel Macron, even if some opponents denounce the French and European weakness to weigh strategically.
The Head of State clearly linked his entry into the campaign to the evolution of this “geopolitical crisis” and the Covid epidemic. “I cannot reasonably explain to the French that I will indulge in this important democratic time, when I have told them that I will be president until the end and that we have a crisis on the Ukrainian border which threatens our collective security. “, he explained Tuesday to The voice of the North.
The crisis in Mali, another burning issue
By adopting such an attitude, the French president “reinforces his international stature” and “places himself above the fray”, observes a majority official. But “he must show that he can obtain concrete results”, otherwise “his opponents will denounce his posturing and his impotence”, he warns.
For Frédéric Dabi, director general opinion of Ifop, “the international is playing a more important role this year than in the previous elections, which were above all focused on national issues”. “The French have become aware that the international situation has an impact on that in France,” he adds. This development “benefits the president in place”, according to the expert, especially since it supports one of the strong points attributed to Emmanuel Macron in the polls.
Beyond Ukraine, the Head of State must also manage the crisis with Mali without delay, with the key to heavy decisions to be taken in coordination with the Europeans and the allied countries in West Africa. “Having to manage two urgent international crises in the run-up to the presidential election is unprecedented,” said someone close to the president.
Faced with the hostility of the junta in power in Bamako, which has just expelled its ambassador, France is giving itself until mid-February to decide on the future of its military presence in the country after nine years of struggle. anti-jihadist. The answer could be provided on the sidelines of the EU-Africa summit, in which Emmanuel Macron will participate, on February 17 and 18 in Brussels. Seizing the subject in the campaign, the opposition is almost unanimous in favor of a gradual disengagement from Mali, calling on Emmanuel Macron to be firm in the face of the junta.