Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sarkozy Disappoints?

Some commentary assessing the first day of the Putin-Sarkozy talks in Moscow.

Seems like those who were expecting Sarkozy to descend on the Kremlin as the stern avenging angel of the Western community of democracies are going to be disappointed. Certainly, the French president shares a number of concerns with Washington, not least of which is a nuclear Iran. It doesn't mean that he is prepared to automatically support an American position. On Iran and on Kosovo, Sarkozy is much more prepared, it seems, to find a compromise approach that can achieve most Western objectives but also address Russian concerns. (Sounds very much like the advice Ronald Reagan gave James Baker: “Jim, I’d rather get 80 percent of what I want than to go over the cliff with my flag flying.”

Sarkozy appears to reflect a consensus continental-European position that does share with the U.S. concerns about democratic backsliding, abuse of human rights and corruption in Russia but also thinks that the country is still moving in a positive direction for the long-term and is continuing, slowly but surely, to become more integrated with Europe (witness Sarkozy's comments on investments).

We'll have to see what happens now on day two.

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