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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

French: Treaty is good for Russia

He preferred not to talk about it before last Saturday's referendum on the Maastricht Treaty, but the French ambassador to Moscow, Pierre Morel, is now fairly blunt about what the consequences would have been for Russia if the vote had been "no".

"It's not hard to imagine the turmoil that a negative vote would have produced", he told The Moscow Times in an interview. "The EC would have turned in on itself, and that would have meant a smaller capacity to cooperate with Eastern Europe and Russia".

According to Morel, a career diplomat and former diplomatic adviser to French President Francois Mitterrand, the results would have been "painful" and would have threatened the continuity of European Community aid, which so far accounts for about 70 percent of the economic support received by Russia.

He said the French vote was especially crucial, not just because a "no" would have effectively killed off the Maastricht Treaty, but because France and Germany had clearly been the key countries within the EC and the Group of Seven leading industrial nations in mobilizing support for Russia.

France had pushed for the G-7 to give the Soviet Union a space at the table when then-General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev turned up at the Paris summit in 1989.

It advocated compromise at subsequent summits in London and Munich.

Among the programs agreed at Munich that would have been almost impossible without a united approach from France and Germany, the ambassador said, was a decision by the G-7 to renovate Russian-made civil nuclear facilities.

"That is a high priority and it must be based on joint action, not every man for himself", Morel said. He explained that the complexity of the issue, its costs and the need to tackle the problem as a whole would have put a solution out of reach of any one country.

Similarly, the European Community had voted major humanitarian credits, with a special emphasis on reconstructing the Russian health and pharmaceutical industries, which would have been difficult in the context of country-to-country humanitarian aid.

France's aid to Russia has been about $900 million of bilateral aid and another $500 million through the European Community.

With Germany and several other key EC countries yet to vote, the Maastricht Treaty could still turn out to be a dead letter.

Morel brushed aside any comparisons with the difficulties faced by the former Soviet Union in forming a federation. The difficulties in the European process were simply a result of the "ambitious" plan that underlies the treaty.

"A unified market and a single economic space by 1993 is one of the biggest steps we have had in 40 years of the Community".