Three days ago I wrote for The Duran pointing out that Francois Fillon, who is now almost certain to be the centre right’s candidate in next year’s French Presidential election, and who will most probably be the person who runs against Marine Le Pen in the run off, like Marine Le Pen is a known friend of Russia’s.
I pointed out that there were even reports that Fillon was a personal friend of Putin’s and that the two men are on first name terms.
Putin at a short press conference has now commented on Fillon’s likely emergence as the centre right candidate and moreover he has done so in a way that appears to confirm that the rumours of his friendship with Fillon are true. Here is what Putin had to say about him:
“As for Mr Fillon, I worked with Francois when he was Prime Minister, and when I was Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, from 2008 to 2012. Yes, we did have many meetings and we forged a good personal relationship.
I think that Mr Fillon stands out among politicians today, not just in France but in the world in general, because at first glance he is a closed person, not a public person. But for all his European manners in the best sense of the word, he always knows how to defend his point of view and he does so in tough, consistent fashion. He’s a tough negotiating partner in this sense, but he is without question a real professional and a very decent person.”
Putin was extremely careful in these comments to say nothing that might damage Fillon’s chances in the forthcoming run-off to decide who will be the centre’s right candidate in the Presidential election next year. This explains Putin’s carefully chosen words about Fillon being a strong negotiator. Quite obviously they were intended to allay concerns that Putin might have Fillon in his pocket, a fact that would undoubtedly have been used against Fillon by Alain Juppe – who is after all still in the race – and by his supporters.
However, it is the warm words Putin says about Fillon that are the most striking. Not only does he say that he and Fillon “forged a good personal relationship” whilst Fillon was Prime Minister of France, but he also calls Fillon “a very decent person”.
Most striking of all, by referring to Fillon as “Francois” Putin has confirmed that they are indeed on first name terms. Putin has never referred to President Obama, Chancellor Merkel or ex British Prime Minister Cameron by their first names in this friendly way.
On the overwhelmingly likely assumption that Fillon will indeed be the centre right’s candidate in next year’s Presidential election, and with Marine Le Pen also taking a strong pro-Russian position, the Élysée Palace looks certain to have a pro-Russian occupant next year.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.