The first debate of the major candidates were held in a live French TV channel TF1 on Monday, March 20. In they took part the candidate of the ruling Socialist party, Benoit Hamon, former Prime Minister and candidate of the party “the Republicans” françois Fillon, leader of the far-right National front, marine Le Pen, a former economy Minister and founder of the movement “Forward” Emmanuel macron and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, candidate of the main ultra-left forces. The debate was divided into three thematic sections: society, economy and international relations, and lasted more than three hours.
The role of France in the international arena were discussed in the last twenty minutes of the debate. The key issue was one of border security of the country. However, candidates including talked about Russia, Ukraine and Crimea. François Fillon, the candidate from the party “the Republicans”, answering the question of the annexation of the Peninsula, said: “We’ve changed the boundaries. In Kosovo, for example. There is a fundamental principle — the right of peoples to self-determination. And there are limits that have been built is unacceptable for the people”. Fillon also expressed his opinion about the struggle of France with the banned in Russia LIH. “It is a complete failure. We have provided freedom of actions of Russia and Iran, while could fight together,” he said during the debate. To overcome this failure, “France will need an Alliance with Russia and countries of the middle East region,” said Fillon. In the applicant’s opinion, in conditions when “the new American President at least unpredictable,” France must do more to behave in the international arena.
“I personally think that the Crimea more ties with Russia”, — said at the debate Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
The most tough against Russia spoke Emmanuel macron, the leader of movement “Forward”. “I’m the only candidate who stands for the European way of France,” he said. And recalled that during the long history of France along with other European countries have built peace in Europe, including through economic unions “even sometimes with Russia.” However, macron said that he didn’t want to be friends with the President of Russia Vladimir Putin. He stated in a debate with marine Le Pen. “Do you not understand that, unlike you, I don’t want to be friends with Putin <…> I want to see France in Europe, this is our contradiction.”
Candidates for the French presidency
Marine Le Pen — the leader of “National front”. The daughter of the founder of the party Jean-Marie Le pen, who in 2002 lost to Jacques Chirac in the second round of the presidential election. In the presidential election of 2012 took the third place with 18% of votes. In foreign policy, advocates the withdrawal of France from the EU and NATO and improving relations with Moscow. In the internal offers to fight illegal migration, to impose a tax on imports and support of French manufacturers protectionist measures.
Francois Fillon — the candidate from “Republican”. Was head of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Sarkozy presidency (2007-2012). Performs with conservative positions: a review of relations with the EU without leaving the Union, the restriction on the admission of migrants, reduction of taxes and reduction of state intervention in the economy. Has friendly relations with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, supports the revision of the policy of sanctions against Moscow.
Emmanuel macron — the candidate from the party “Forward!”. Former in 2014-2016 economy Minister macron last spring, resigned from the government, organizing their own party, and in August announced his intention to run for President. His program as a self-proclaimed centrist combines left-wing (social reforms, the increase in salaries and benefits) and the right-wing ideas (reducing the role of government in the economy, encouragement of private initiative, free market). Supports further integration with the EU, but supports the development of relations with Russia.
Benoit Amon — the candidate of the Socialist party. Now a member of the French Parliament, in 2014, he worked briefly with the Minister of education. The representative of the left wing party, advocates the introduction of an unconditional basic income, the legalization of soft drugs and euthanasia. Is a staunch supporter of green energy. Supports European integration and Russian foreign policy calls “aggressive imperialism.”
Benoit Hamon, candidate from the socialist party, said that relations with Russia need to be proactive: “Instead of trying to discuss boundaries with Putin, it is better to make suggestions”.
Marine Le Pen about his attitude to Russia and its leader on the debate did not. Responding to a question about boundaries, she called for their closure. “I just want to stop the flow of migrants — legal and illegal. No more than 10 thousand people a year,” she said.
Commenting on the statements of the candidates for the French presidency, the press Secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow is more impressed by statements of participants in which there is a need to establish a dialogue with it.
The debate was watched by nearly 10 million viewers, a record for France. According to the research company Elabe, answering the question “Who was most persuasive?”, 29% of respondents called the Makron, 20% of Mélenchon, 19% — marine Le Pen and Fillon, and 11% — Amon, reports TASS. In the survey participated 1157 voters. Election of the President of France will be held in two rounds — on April 23 and may 7.