Macron calls on Russia to work with Europe to end 'difficult period'
Posted May 25, 2018 10:19 a.m. EDT
(CNN) — French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday called on Russia to work "hand-in-hand" with Europe to end what he described as "one of the most difficult periods of our history."
In an address to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia, Macron made reference to the values of cooperation, multilateralism and sovereignty, while subtly criticizing policies of isolationism and protectionism.
He described Russia as "an inalienable part of Europe" and called for dialogue and trust, saying: "Let us get around the table to talk about things. If we miss this moment then we really lose it forever."
His speech followed an address from Vladimir Putin in which the Russian President warned the world was currently experiencing "a systemic crisis" in global trade rules, in part because of a "new era of protectionism."
The rules that have been built up over decades are being "broken -- and sometimes very blatantly," Putin told an audience that included Macron and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
"Today we observe not even erosion -- but subversion -- of these foundations," Putin said.
"There are more and more classic forms of restriction and we are now talking about a completely new era of protectionism -- and this is all defended by references to national interests and so on. These kind of random sanctions are extremely damaging and more and more attempts are made to circumvent the rules. Worldwide lack of confidence has an effect on growth."
Putin did not name Donald Trump, but his words could be read as an attack on the US President's threat to impose stiff global tariffs on steel and aluminum exports from Europe and elsewhere.
Putin also said Trump was playing to his base by pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal -- but warned the consequences could be bad.
"He is making good on his electoral promises, so he is a victor domestically. But if this deal is destroyed, many will lose," Putin said.
Trump withdrew from the Iranian nuclear accord on May 9. He had long excoriated the deal, claiming it didn't go far enough in deterring Iran's ambitions in the Middle East, or doing anything to curb its ballistic missile program.
The United States has said it expects its European allies to follow its lead. However, leaders in Europe and elsewhere have said they intend to stick to the deal, while Russia and Turkey criticized the US decision.
In his address, Macron spoke of the need to work in "the spirit of cooperation" through existing international platforms, such as the United Nations Security Council and G20.
"Let us make our platforms useful: removing trade tensions and removing barriers. In several months we are going to meet at the G20 summit so let us make this platform useful for the sake of a multilateral approach," he said.
Macron acknowledged that "the confidence of the international community is somewhat shaky at the moment" and that his goals of cooperation and multilateralism "are far from easy." But, he said, "let us be full of valor and courage to work together, cooperate."
This year's forum in St. Petersburg has the biggest international lineup since before 2014, when Russia was hit with US and European economic sanctions over its annexation of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and support of a separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine.