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Macron will Receive Putin on Monday in Versailles, after G7

The new French president Emmanuel Macron will receive on Monday the day after the G7 summit, Vladimir Poutine, a man he castigates the “values” but that he knows must dialogue. Russia hopes that from the meeting, scheduled in Versailles near Paris, to get out of its isolation, according to analysts.

Emmanuel Macron, which will make its debut on the world stage on Thursday at the NATO summit in Brussels, then Friday and Saturday at the G7 in Sicily, outlined in two words, during the presidential campaign, his future relationship with Russia “dialogue” and “firmness”.  While claiming not “to be part of those who are fascinated by Vladimir Poutine”, which he does not share the “values” .

The master of the Kremlin to be received at the Grand Trianon

To receive the master of the Kremlin, he chose the very royal setting of the Grand Trianon, elegant neighbor palace of Versailles, which hosts an exhibition on the builder Tsar Peter the Great. He will receive Vladimir Poutine in this setting that allows the French President not to give too formal aspect to the visit, “it’s clever enough”, said a diplomatic source.

“This first meeting comes very quickly, but after a journey of Macron in Berlin and after the NATO summit: it is a message that is a reminder that the French priority is Germany and the European project”, said the french director of the Institute of international Relations (IFRI), Thomas Gomart. “Putin for his part hopes to correct the very negative image he left during the French presidential campaign,” adds the researcher, citing the audience granted in March in the Kremlin to the candidate of the extreme right Marine Le Pen, and computer hacks against the party of Emmanuel Macron, attributed to Russian hackers.

Dialogue indispensable

Before his election, Emmanuel Macron had himself not mince words toward Moscow and the Russian media. “Friends of Ms Le Pen are the MM plans. Orban Kaczynski, Putin “ , he had launched on May 1st, in reference to the Hungarian Prime Minister, the leader of the nationalist conservative party PiS in power in Poland and the master of the Kremlin.

But the new president, elected on the 7th May, as has always advocated dialogue with Moscow, a key player in a number of international issues, starting with the Syrian crisis. “My belief is that only the strength and unity of the Europeans allow us to maintain an open dialogue with Moscow, which is essential” , he hammered in a speech on the 18th March.

For its part, Russia, excluded from the G8 – G7 become again – and under international sanctions since the annexation of Crimea and support for pro-Russian rebels in the east of Ukraine, especially retains the call for dialogue . The “development of Franco-Russian relations” will be on the agenda program in all areas, confirmed the Kremlin said in a statement.

Pragmatism Macron leased by the Russian ambassador

“Macron is a man very intelligent, realistic, pragmatic […] With him were more likely to progress before […] We can come back to the relationship we had with François Mitterrand”, welcomed Friday the Russian Ambassador to France Alexander Orlov, to French business leaders.  The Kremlin, which has much to deal with Angela Merkel – “a lady a bit temperamental, difficult” according to the ambassador – is also focusing on new interlocutors in Europe to try to influence the EU’s position on sanctions.

“I do not think that Macron has wanted to play alone on Syria and part company with Merkel as we are with the Germans in the group of Normandy on the Ukrainian crisis” , notes however François Heisbourg, chairman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

For the Kremlin, this visit will also allow to turn the page snub inflicted by President François Hollande, who had put a condition -talk on Syrian- folder to receive Vladimir Poutine in Paris in October.  He had canceled his visit.

Mr Macron would not expect the G20 summit in early July in Hamburg (Germany) to forge a link. “In international politics, the + + personal chemistry is still very important,” said Mr. Heisbourg.

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