France’s Le Pen outlines a foreign policy vision and leaves Russia’s door ajar

Marine Le Pen, the French right-wing extremist National Rally (Rassemblement National) party candidate for the French presidential election in 2022, reacts during a press conference on democracy and the exercise of power in Vernon, France, April 12, 2022. REUTERS / Sarah Meyssonnier

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  • Le Pen seeks the president’s credibility for the global scene
  • After Ukraine, she would seek NATO-Russia rapprochement
  • Le Pen wants an end to French ‘blindness’ to Germany
  • The far right candidate wants a looser EU

PARIS, April 13 (Reuters) – Leading right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen on Wednesday sought to play up her world-class leadership credentials, calling for a break with France’s recent diplomatic past to do what she called a country that “still” counting”. “

A Le Pen victory in France’s April 24 election round would resonate across Europe and across the Atlantic, installing a deep Eurosceptic in the Elysee Palace who has long professed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Le Pen has previously drawn criticism for a shaky grip on geopolitics when he once claimed that Russia had not invaded Crimea in 2014. Given the role of the French president in taking the lead on foreign policy, Le Pen held a 90-minute news conference with the aim of showing that she had the status of a great power leader.

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She told international and French media that she would clear up “misunderstandings” about her foreign policy.

“France is not a middle nation, but a great power that counts,” she said, launching a 30-minute monologue on France’s historic achievements before outlining differences with what she called the “talkative, sketchy and ill-informed” diplomacy of pro European Center President Emmanuel Macron, her opponent on April 24.

She said she had been misjudged in her previous expressions of respect for Putin, saying she had only defended French interests in her warm contacts with the Kremlin leader, including calls for an alliance with Moscow. Read more

“As soon as the Russo-Ukrainian war is over and has been settled by a peace agreement, I will call for the implementation of a strategic rapprochement between NATO and Russia,” Le Pen said.

She reaffirmed that if elected president, she would take France out of the US-led NATO’s integrated command structure to restore French sovereignty over international security issues.

The news conference was briefly interrupted when a protester held up a picture of Le Pen’s meeting with Putin in 2017, cut out in the shape of a heart, before being pulled out of security.

FRENCH ‘BLINDNESS’ WITH GERMANY

Le Pen also suggested that she wanted more distance in relation to other EU power plants Germany.

While supporting Franco-German friendship, arguing that French and German should replace English as the working language of European institutions, she warned that “strategic differences” would mean a new way of working with Berlin.

She wanted to put an end to Franco-German military cooperation, including future warplane and tank programs.

“I would continue … reconciliation without following the Macron-Merkel model of French blindness to Berlin,” she said, referring to the former longtime German chancellor.

She was in favor of a looser version of the EU, although she confirmed she would keep France in the 27-nation bloc. Le Pen has previously dropped calls to drop the euro currency or leave the EU, which cost her votes in previous elections.

“Nobody is against Europe. We want to reform the EU from within. The more we free ourselves from the Brussels straitjacket while staying in the EU, the more we want to look at the wider world,” she said.

“It seems to me that this was what the British well understood,” she said, referring to Britain’s exit from the EU in 2020.

Her program aims to erode the EU and will bring her on a collision course with most of the bloc’s partners on many points, including plans to cut French contributions to the EU budget and re-establish the precedence of French law over EU law.

Macron has categorized Le Pen’s manifesto as full of lies and false promises that hide a right-wing extremist agenda that would ultimately lead to France’s exit from the EU. Read more

“This sends shivers down my spine. It’s a mix of themes from Trump and Brexit rhetoric,” a European diplomat told Reuters.

“A return to a reinterpreted past, with quotes from all sides to legitimize it and try to give it more rationality. If her European program is used, then France risks becoming irrelevant in Europe,” the diplomat said.

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Further Reporting by Geert de Clercq Writing by John Irish Editing by Mark Heinrich

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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