Sept. 20 (BP) — French President Emmanuel Macron denounced Russia’s war in Ukraine as a return to “imperialism,” as he addressed the opening day of the 77th United Nations General Assembly.
“What we have witnessed since Feb. 24 is a return to the age of imperialism and colonies. France refuses this and will work persistently for peace,” Macron told world leaders Tuesday.
The first full in-person General Assembly in three years convened hours after Russian allies said they would call for referendums on annexation in occupied parts of Ukraine. The regions – Luhansk, Kherson, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia – will stage a referendum vote on Friday, a move condemned by most of the international community.
Macron, who has spoken often with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the war, warned keeping a dialogue going is vital to keep Russia from fighting other “wars of annexation” around the world.
“We are all aware, as well, that negotiations will only be successful if Ukraine is liberated and its sovereignty is protected,” the French president said. “Russia must now see that it cannot impose its will militarily even if there are fake pretend referenda in the territories that have been bombed and occupied.”
In his strongest remarks yet about the impact of the war, Macron said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “deliberately violated the U.N. Charter and the principle of sovereign equality of states.”
The war “is undermining the principle of our organization, is undermining the only possible world order, is undermining peace,” Macron said as he called on members of the U.N. Security Council to “act so that Russia rejects the path of war and assesses the cost for itself and for all of us – and really, bring an end to this act of aggression.”
Macron also blasted nations that have remained “neutral” during the war, calling them out as “complicit.”
“Those who are silent now on this new imperialism, or are secretly complicit with it, show a new cynicism that is tearing down the global order without which peace is not possible,” Macron said.
In addition to speaking at the U.N., Macron met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi for the first time Tuesday. Macron said he told Raisi “the ball is in Iran’s court” regarding a nuclear deal, according to an interview with CNN.
“The ball is now in Iran’s court to say whether or not it accepts the conditions that have been formally proposed by the Americans and the Europeans,” Macron said.
“President Raisi expressed to me his concern about historical issues and about guarantees on the issues looked at by the International Atomic Energy Agency. If this is a precondition, then the IAEA must do its work independently,” Macron said.
While reiterating that Iran’s relationship with Europe is independent of the United States, Raisi said Iran is ready to reach a “fair and stable” agreement but wants Iran’s open cases with the IAEA to be closed first, according to a statement from Raisi’s office.
Macron said France will have to see a verifiable “framework” first.
“I’ve been clear on the framework and you can’t play with trust and security,” he said.