The election of the new president of the French Republic is an important change that could advance the Ukraine-French relations and Ukraine-EU relations.
In this regard, the Institute of World Policy developed several recommendations to maintain and develop relations between the two countries. In particular, the priorities should be the following three areas: trade and investments, security and inter-parliamentary cooperation.
On the occasion of the election of the new French president the Ukrainian leadership should:
• Start negotiations with the new French president and his team on a range of bilateral issues (e.g. business, trade, culture, etc.) as well as pan-European (e.g. security). On this occasion, invite the French president to Ukraine.
• Special attention should be paid to people who will likely hold a position in Macron’s team or those who have an influence on the new president. Among others, the discussed candidates are as follows:
– for the position of Prime Minister: Sylvie Goulard, François Bayrou, Richard Ferrand, Jean-Paul Delevoye, Gérard Collomb, Richard Ferrand, Edouard Philippe and Xavier Bertrand.
– for top positions in defense: Jean Yves Le Diran (current minister), Gwendal Rouillard, formerly from the Defense Committee, Jean-Jacques Bridey, MP, and Nicolas Bays from the Defense Committee of the Parliament.
– for top positions in the foreign, security and European affairs: Bruno Lemaire (discussed candidate for Minister of Foreign Affairs), Gerard Araud (outgoing France Ambassador to US, candidate for diplomatic adviser to Macron), Aurélien Lechevallier (head of Macron Foreign Policy and Security team), Francois Heisbourg, (leading adviser on defense and national security), Clément Beaune (European affairs), Elisabeth Guigou MP and head of the committee on foreign affairs in the National Assembly.
Recommendations on trade and investments:
• Reassure that French investments are a high priority for Ukraine and commit for a policy of “Zero Problems” for French business and eradication of corruption. Also, boost the bilateral trade which is today at low level, e.g. by launching a Ukraine-France business fair and establishing a permanent mechanism that could be managed, for instance, by the Chambers of Commerce. Ukrainian exports to France represent around 1% of the total Ukrainian export abroad which is very much below the capacity and the opportunities offered by French Republic.
• To prioritize cooperation in agriculture, in particular to promote French investments in this sector and joint French-Ukrainian enterprise. Special attention should be paid to contacts with powerful agricultural regions of France, particularly Brittany – interregional commercial cooperation will increase the interest and commitment of France to Ukraine.
• Invite and consider French companies for the upcoming round of privatization in Ukraine. The participation of French business in the privatization of state-owned Ukrainian assets would also increase the interest and commitment of France in Ukraine.
• Develop the Ukrainian-French cooperation in the IT-industry, given the high potential of this industry in Ukraine and its priority for France’s president-elect.
Recommendations on security:
• Thank France for its consistent support of Ukraine through Normandy Format and upholding the sanctions against Russia. Emphasize the importance of the continued involvement of France in fulfilment of Minsk Agreements, upholding sanctions and continuation of participation of Élysée Palace in the Normandy Format on mid and long term.
• Maintain cooperation in the field of security with France, especially since France is one of the frontrunners of the European security. A symbolic participation of the Ukrainian Army in a non-European theatre, as Georgia does, might be a good way to improve the level of cooperation and trust in the security domain.
• Reassert the importance of the commitments taken in regard to Ukraine as a precondition to re-launch the French-Russian dialogue, and the importance of the separate Ukrainian-French track in French policy towards the EU’s eastern neighbors.
• Thank President Francois Hollande for his support.
Recommendations on interparliamentary cooperation:
• Initiate and develop a multi-party cooperation with the National Assembly and Senate of France in order to have a predictable and mutually beneficial relation. Special attention should be paid to a number of key parties (both left and right-wing), as the possible outcome of the parliamentary elections scheduled for June 2017 is not clear and there might be no majority.
• Invite the group of French MPs from different parties to visit Ukraine after the parliamentary elections in France.
Recommendations on sectoral cooperation:
• Use and benefit from the French experience in a range of sectors, as Ukraine did, for instance, when benefiting from French contribution on Chernobyl reactor sarcophagus and the confinement structure. Similar joint activities are possible in such areas as energy, pharmaceuticals, transport, etc.
• Reinforce the cooperation between Ukraine and France at all levels, including cultural and public diplomacy. Pay a special attention to the French “group of friends” for Ukraine (both in parliament and civil society) and establish contact with a large part of influential think tanks and individuals. Consider the declaration of year of France in Ukraine.
• Reinforce scientific, cultural and IT cooperation between Ukraine and France, i.e. on introducing new type of Ukrainian scholarships for young and senior French scholars, cultural agents, working on Ukraine and Eastern European issues. Reinforce media exchanges between France and Ukraine (forums, trainings, conferences (e.g. TEDeX), etc).
The Policy Memo was prepared by the Institute of World Policy. We would like to thank Celine Marange, Florent Parmantier, Laure Delcour, Tatiana Jean, Tetyana Ogarkova, Volodymyr Yermolenko and those experts who preferred to remain anonymous for important contributions.