|Nicolas Sarkozy's government apparently prizes the status quo with Russia|
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
A US diplomatic cable published by whistleblower website WikiLeaks shows that France allegedly threatened to block the Eastern Partnership, a European Union program to build ties with former Soviet states, unless relations with Russia were normalized.
The threat was made after dialogue between the EU and Russia broke down following the outbreak of war between Russia and Georgia in South Ossetia in 2008. Other cables released by WikiLeaks show that France was reluctant to criticize Russia during the crisis saying it would harm the work of its diplomats.
And it now appears France was prepared to play hardball in order to get relations with Russia back on track.
According to a cable from the US Embassy in Stockholm, Swedish diplomat Johan Frisell said France would stall the Eastern Partnership if “the Swedes and others opposed to business as usual” in relations with the Kremlin refused to resume EU-Russia talks.
Sweden and Poland are the chief architects of the Eastern Partnership.
“Once the decision on talks on the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement [with Russia] was made, Sweden and Poland ... were given the green light to ‘move ahead,’ Frisell told us,” the cable reads.
The willingness of major powers to ride roughshod over Poland in order to further their own aims was made even more clear by another cable released in early March.
Russia was apparently determined – no matter the strength of Poland’s opposition – to get the Nord Stream gas pipeline operational. Nord Stream will carry Russian gas to the EU via the Baltic Sea.
The project is designed to give Russia direct access to Western markets, bypassing Poland and giving Russia greater leverage in terms of gas politics. Poland has, unsurprisingly, been an outspoken critic of the project, with Foreign Minister Sikorski once comparing it to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact – the 1939 deal between Russia and Germany to divide Poland in two.
Rejecting Poland’s opposition, however, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs European Cooperation Director Dmitry Polyanskiy told the US Embassy in Moscow that “Nord Stream is an EU priority and one EU member, even a large one like Poland, cannot hold it up,” the US Embassy in Russia wrote in a dispatch.
From Warsaw Business Journal by Gareth Price
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