Paris: French President Nicolas Sarkozy stressed his friendship with the US and Russia in an interview, but urged Moscow to be more open to criticism and warned Washington it must take more action on climate change.
In his first interview since taking office, Sarkozy played down tensions between the two nations over a proposed US missile shield in central Europe that have threatened to overshadow the G8 summit in Germany.
He told Le Figaro daily that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s tough rhetoric opposing the project should not be seen as “unfriendly”, nor should US President George W Bush’s recent attack on the state of democracy in Russia.
“It is very important to have good relations with Russia,” Sarkozy said in the interview published online on 6 June.
He continued: “I will say to Putin that friendship comes with frankness. He is frank when he talks about his disagreement with the Americans on the anti-missile system. I do not see that as unfriendly.
“He should not then see as unfriendly questions asked about human rights, and about the market economy in Russia.”
Sarkozy said he would have preferred for Europe to discuss the US plans for a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic first, but said the project was “perhaps agressive towards Russia politically, but not militarily”.
“Putin is right to say to us that we must understand Russian national feelings, but I ask him to continue his thought. Understand the history of Poland, understand the history of the Czech Republic,” he added.
The French president also had tough words for Washington over its refusal to sign up to any sort of agreement on climate change that entails concrete targets on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
“I would like to get agreement on a defined target for the reduction of greenhouse gases. You can’t compromise on this,” Sarkozy told the newspaper.
“I am a friend of the United States, a determined ally and a friend without ulterior motives. But I say to them: you have to make an effort.
“The major power in the world cannot be exempt from providing an example on protecting our planet’s equilibrium.”