PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron held a broad-ranging question & answer session with journalists on Friday. Here are highlights of his remarks at the news conference, held in a restaurant near the Eiffel Tower:
“At this exceptional moment, (the situation) leads me to apply more pressure. I don’t hold a trump card. I think that France has convinced its European and American partners and a good part of the regional partners that we are honest brokers.
NORD STREAM 2 GAS PIPELINE
“I don’t think the approach that we ought to have with Russia should be one of naivety nor do I think it should be nourished by an increase in our dependence on Russia. This has always fuelled my reservations about the Nord Stream 2 project. The German chancellor (Angela Merkel) knows it.”
“We are doing everything to avoid another lockdown and in particular a nationwide lockdown. We’ve learned enough to know that nothing can be ruled out. But we’re doing everything to prevent it.
“What we must do is get people back to work.”
“Something is happening in our society which is not new and which has undoubtedly worsened since the end of (the coronavirus) lockdown, hardened, and which trivializes violence. The difficulty facing us is to respond as quickly as possible to all forms of violence.”
“Any external intervention in Belarus, starting with an intervention by Russian forces, whether military or internal security, would obviously be an intervention … which would lead to the regionalization and internationalization of this issue. I think this intervention would be inappropriate.
“We want to engage Russia in a dialogue on Belarus, and for Russia to help us convince President (Alexander) Lukashenko of the need for OSCE mediation.”
“No company, whatever its nationality, is targeted.”
“(Our wish) while we have two European suppliers – Ericsson and Nokia – is to have a real European industrial solution, fully secure, under our legislation because the security of our communications and the security of our 5G networks are at stake.”
Macron said he told Chinese President Xi Jinping: “You would do the same as me at home”.
TURKEY AND TENSIONS IN EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN
“It is my view that Turkey’s strategy in recent years is not one of a NATO ally.
“Where would our credibility be in getting involved with Belarus if we do not react to challenges against the sovereignty of our own members?
“We consider that (Turkey’s) deployments … are a provocation. When it comes to Mediterranean sovereignty, I have to be consistent, in deeds as with words. And I can tell you that the Turks … respect that.”
(Reporting by Michel Rose and Elizabeth Pineau; Compiled by Paris bureau; Editing by Frances Kerry)