7 February 2013, 14:34

Russia, France beef up ties

Russia, France beef up ties

A Russian parliamentary delegation led by State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin has completed their working visit to France. Even though the agenda of the talks included knotty international issues, they were held in a friendly and constructive atmosphere.

According to President of the French National Assembly Claude Bartolone, France hopes to establish closer ties with Russia during its presidency in the G20. Russia’s presidency in the G20 should be productive in terms of economic growth, regulation of financial issues, measures against corruption and globalization-related social projects, Mr.Bartolone said. France welcomes plans to introduce visa-free travel between Russia and the EU countries saying that the time has come to remove visa barriers in order to secure free movement of people across Europe, the French parliamentary speaker said.

The visit of the Russian delegation ended with a session of the Russian-French Inter-Parliamentary Commission which focused on visa-related and other issues.

Sergei Naryshkin thanked the French side for making it easier for Russians to obtain French visas. But he said the recently introduced measures to ease visa travel were no longer relevant in terms of meeting the present-day need to expand human contacts.

"Even though the Iron Curtain ceased to exist more than 20 years ago, the visa regime is still there. A number of our EU partners that deem themselves to be democracies continue to insist on visas."

Sergei Naryshkin also said that Russia would have to respond to the deployment of US missile defense bases in Europe.

"Russia has succeeded in building constructive cooperation with its major international partners. However, it still has differences with NATO over its plans to deploy missile defense bases in Europe. Moscow wants guarantees that these bases pose no threat to its borders. If the US chooses to go ahead with the plans, Russia will have to respond appropriately."

So far, Washington has been assuring Moscow that a European missile defense system will not be directed against it. However, it refuses to sign a legally binding agreement to this effect. This justifies Russia’s concerns. A global security system consisting of nuclear deterrent and a missile defense shield should be shared by all countries involved, Naryshkin said.

The speaker of the lower house of the Russian Parliament says Russia hopes for effective cooperation with France on resolving the crisis in Mali. Moscow supports Paris’s efforts to preserve the territorial integrity of Mali and is fully aware of the importance of protecting this African nation against terrorists.

The agenda of the Paris talks also included the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War to be celebrated next year. Russia’s preparations for the memorable date launched two years ago included the creation of the World War I Memorial Society and the adoption of a bill that declared August 1st the Memorial Day honoring Russian soldiers who died in the First World War. The Russian Historical Society is also taking part in the preparations while Sergei Naryshkin will head the Organizing Committee in person.

In the course of the Russian delegation’s visit to France Sergei Naryshkin took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Memorial to Soldiers of the Russian Expedition Corps which was sent to assist the Allied powers and defended Champagne-Ardenne together with French forces.

The Memorial, located on the right bank of the Seine, not far from Grand Palais and Alexandre III Bridge, was unveiled in 2011, during Vladimir Putin’s visit to Paris.

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