Macron and Putin table meeting mocked by hosts
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The French President gathered EU leaders at Versailles on Thursday for a two-day summit to address Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began last month. Mr Macron was among those to reject Ukraine’s attempt to join the EU after the 27-nation bloc said it will study its accession bid. He told reporters: “With a country at war? I don’t think so … Must we close the door and say ‘never’? That would be unjust.”
Mr Macron also reiterated his condemnation of Russia’s military assault on Ukraine, including a recent air strike on a maternity hospital in the city of Mariupol, which he described as a “disgraceful act of war”.
With just over four weeks to go until the French election, Mr Macron’s leadership, including over the situation in Ukraine, is under intense scrutiny.
With the French electorate set to cast their ballots in the first round of voting on April 10, the French leader remains a firm favourite in the polls.
The other candidates trailing the centrist incumbent include Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour from the far-right, as well as the conservative Valérie Pécresse, and the left’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
Mr Macron’s leadership credentials have “benefitted” from his approach to the Ukraine crisis, a European politics expert claimed to Express.co.uk.
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Professor Michael Bruter, a political scientist at the London School of Economics, who is director of the Electoral Psychology Observatory, discussed how Mr Macron’s image may have been boosted by his response to Putin’s war.
He said: “I think that he is benefitting from the current situation because he is seen as somebody who is great at dealing with a crisis.
“I think that is the bottom line.
“He is seen as the sort of guy you want on your team when you are facing really difficult situations.”
The political expert stressed that, although he thought Mr Macron was benefitting from his stance on the overall crisis, his talks with Putin were not as much of a factor.
The two men have spoken 11 times in the last month – the most contact any western leader has had with the Kremlin.
However, in that time, Mr Macron has been unable to convince his Russian counterpart to halt his military assault on Ukraine.
Professor Bruter stressed that the French leader was benefitting more from his general approach to the war in Ukraine and his ability to demonstrate leadership.
He said: “You will never really hear him say, ‘I am the most influential leader in Europe’.
“He doesn’t say those things, but people get that impression very much.
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“One way or another, the French voice is clearly more audible under Macron than it would have been under either Hollande or Sarkozy before.
“Certainly, more than it would be under Le Pen or Mélenchon or Zemmour.”
Professor Bruter said Mr Macron’s leadership style on the international stage contrasted to that of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The expert claimed that Mr Macron appeared more “serious” than his UK counterpart.
He said: “I think that Boris Johnson’s communication plan is to come across as a nice, laid-back, original, slightly weird leader, somebody people feel like relating to.
“Macron is in a very different emotional register.
“He tries to come across as the competent, serious, intelligent, knowledgeable leader.
“It is a very different approach in many ways.”
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