France stands for constructive dialogue with Russia but Crimea’s reunification with Russia remains a “violation of international law” and therefore cannot be recognized officially by Paris, Mayor of Bordeaux Alain Juppe said in an interview with RTL Radio on Wednesday.


“I stand for dialogue with Russia, who I consider to be a major partner. If I am elected (president), dialogue with Vladimir Putin will certainly be one of my first initiatives,” Juppe, who finished second in the first round of France’s The Republicans presidential primaries, said.


At the same time, Juppe emphasized he had no intention of backtracking on a number of fundamental principles, crucial for France. “I am going to express a number of thoughts and considerations. One of them is that Crimea’s reunification with Russia contradicts international law. I will also say that Russia should clarify its stance on Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, and should contribute to implementing the Minsk Accords,” the politician elaborated.


The mayor also added that France was interested in cooperating with Russia in the Middle East. “The eradication of radical Islamism remains a priority, and I would like us to form a very active coalition. But if I am elected (president), I will tell Mr. Putin that it will be impossible to find a stable solution for Syria, if Bashar al-Assad, who is to blame for what’s happening there now, keeps hold of the reins of power,” Juppe said.


France’s Former Prime Minister Francois Fillon (44.1%) won the first round of The Republicans presidential primaries last Sunday. Alain Juppe finished second with 28.6% of the votes, while ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy failed to make it into the second round with 20.6%. The French opposition will hold the second round of its primaries on November 27.


France’s presidential election will take place in April-May 2017. The center-right’s candidate will become known following the current primaries and according to forecasts, this contender would be considered the favorite in the country’s presidential race.