French National Assembly Votes to Lift Russian Sanctions, Government Opposes It

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French parliamentarians approved a resolution not to renew sanctions on Russia. The resolution was adopted by 55 votes in favor, 44 against, and two abstentions. Thus, for the first time a French state institution officially called for lifting the economic restrictions. However, the French Government is unlikely to heed the deputies’ opinion, experts believe. French political scientist Ivan Blot, former MEP and Rethinking Russia expert, commented on the detrimental effect of sanctions on Europe and explained why nobody will remove the restrictions:

In fact, only a minority of the Assembly’s 577 MPs participated in the meeting, with the largest number of abstainers from the ruling Socialist party. It made the government take a hard line and reject the resolution adopted virtually without the Socialists, out of hand.

Several political parties – the Republican UDI (Union of Democrats and Independents), the Left Front and the National Front – voted against extending the sanctions. By July 1, 2016 the European Union must decide whether to remove or keep the existing sanctions or even to introduce additional ones. Resolution 3585 signed by 84 deputies contains a request to lift the anti-Russian sanctions and encourages the French government to negotiate the issue with the other European countries. It contains a call on the executive branch to overturn the EU entry ban for Russian lawmakers.

Here are the reasons to lift anti-Russian sanctions.

1) They do not contribute to resolving the Ukrainian crisis because the major obstacle to reconciling the differences is the incumbent government in Kiev which does not abide by the Minsk agreements.

2) The sanction policy has an adverse effect on both Russia’s and Europe’s economy but favors exclusively American enterprises. French farmers have been most severely hit by the anti-Russian sanctions and ban on imports imposed in retaliation to the European actions.

3) Basically, the economic penalties are ridiculous for European countries, which are allies in the fight against Islamic terrorists. 

4) The EU high-ranking bureaucrats took a decision to impose the sanctions on Russia without any consultations with ordinary people or deliberations in the EU national parliaments, which was not consistent with democratic principles.

5) The sanctions imposed against the Russian politicians, especially the MPs, did not imply a possibility to lodge an appeal, which contravenes the Convention on Human Rights.  

Business circles argue that the sanctions have damaged trade between Europe and Russia, cut jobs and incurred financial losses to French taxpayers. For instance, the refusal to deliver the Mistral –class helicopter carrier ordered by Russia cost France 1.2 billion Euros.

Although the vote in France’s lower house of Parliament is non-binding, the French President and the Government are likely to use it as a trump card while negotiating the removal of the sanctions. Besides, this resolution will shape public opinion in other EU countries amid the economic stagnation and growing unemployment rates, especially, among the youth.

European countries are increasingly leaning towards the idea that the strategy of inflicting economic pain on Russia is injudicious and should be abandoned. The resolution of France’s Parliament will bolster confidence of those who think this way – that is, of those who highlight the necessity to cooperate with Russia and lift the ineffective, unreasonable and unfair sanctions, which were imposed under considerable pressure of the United States.

This article first appeared on Politanalitika

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