Jacques Chirac, this President "deeply attached" to the Russian soul


On 30 September Vladimir Putin attended the solemn service in Saint-Sulpice for the funeral of Jacques Chirac. Arnaud Dubien, director of the Franco-Russian Observatory, returns in L'Opinion on the relations between the two men and the feelings of Jacques Chirac for the Russian soul to which he remained "the most deeply attached".

Vladimir Putin and Jacques Chirac had close personal relations, so the Russian head of state was keen to pay a last tribute to the former French President by attending his funeral in Paris. He was the only one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to be present, writes in an article published by L'Opinion Arnaud Dubien, director of the Observatoire franco-russe.

This fact also reflects the exceptional character of Franco-Russian relations, he said, noting that Emmanuel Macron seems determined to look into a renewed bilateral partnership.
Returning to the history of relations between Vladimir Putin and Jacques Chirac, Arnaud Dubien notes that things had not started well. The new Russian president had first bet on Tony Blair, hoping to establish through him a bridge with the United States. German-speaking and Germanophile, he had quickly started the dialogue with Gerhard Schröder. But, Paris being critical of the Chechen war, contacts between the two Presidents have not been good from the start.
It was not until October 2000 that the two men discovered each other during a Russia-EU summit.

The hinge year

Then 2003 was a very important year for both countries. As the views of Russia and France converged on the Iraq issue, real confidence was established between the two Presidents, and the following year, Vladimir Putin invited Jacques Chirac to the Russian Space Command Center: never no other leader of a NATO member country had this opportunity.

During the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in late 2004, Jacques Chirac sought to round off the angles, understanding that Ukraine was a sensitive country for Moscow, Arnaud Dubien continues, recalling that the French President had opposed that the NATO grants a road map to Kiev, a position that will be pursued by his successors at the Elysee.

De Gaulle and Chirac

He noted that, unlike General De Gaulle's Russophilia, which stemmed from the memory of the struggles shared during the two world wars and his desire to counterbalance Germany, Jacques Chirac's was literary and human.
Arnaud Dubien recalls that Jacques Chirac had translated into his youth Pushkin's novel Eugène Onegin and that a great role had returned to his Russian teacher, Vladimir Belanovitch, a former diplomat of Tsarist Russia who left the country after the Revolution of 1917, which had helped him to know the Russian soul.
This soul "which is one of those in the world to which I have remained most deeply attached" wrote Jacques Chirac in his memoirs.

"A very interesting man"

Moreover, in an interview published by the Financial Times on June 28, Vladimir Putin said he admired Jacques Chirac, "a very interesting balanced man", who, when he was President, "his own opinion on each question" and who "always treated his partners with respect."

A solemn service gathered Monday, September 30 at the church of Saint-Sulpice several foreign heads of state and government, including Vladimir Putin. A day of national mourning has been proclaimed in France.

A popular tribute took place Sunday afternoon at the Invalides. Thousands of mourning Frenchmen lined up in the rain to pay a last tribute to the former President who died Thursday at age 86 and leave a note in the guest books.

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