Nuclear security at forefront of attention of Fiala-Macron talks in Paris

Petr Fiala and Emmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron received Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala at Elysee Palace on Tuesday night for talks on the war in Ukraine and its global repercussions, particularly in energy security and the need to end Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and gas. France is due to pass on the EU Council Presidency to the Czech Republic on July 1st and the two counties have been cooperating closely to ensure a smooth transition.

A guard of honour stood to attention as French President Emmanuel Macron greeted his guest in the courtyard of Elysee Palace on Tuesday evening. In a few words to journalists the Czech prime minister praised France for doing a good job at the head of the EU Council and maintaining EU unity at an extremely difficult time for Europe and the French president returned the compliment by highlighting the Czech Republic’s solidarity with Ukraine in taking in over 350,000 refugees.

Elysee Palace | Photo: United States Department of State,  Flickr,  public domain

Then, the two officials, who are on first name terms, disappeared inside Elysee Palace for talks on the war in Ukraine, the role of the EU in helping the war-torn country and cutting the EU’s dependence on Russian oil and gas as swiftly as possible. Prague and Paris both see nuclear power as an important element in the quest for energy security. Prime Minister Petr Fiala:

“We perceive France as our strongest EU partner in the field of nuclear energy which is key to cutting our dependence on Russia. I am very glad that we succeeded in getting the Commission to accept nuclear energy as an acceptable part of Europe’s energy mix and hope we will continue to promote this rational policy in the future.”

Dukovany nuclear power plant | Photo: Vlastimil Ott,  Flickr,  CC BY-SA 2.0

This is highly likely since France’s EDF is one of the companies that has made a bid for the expansion of the Dukovany nuclear power plant and France itself wants to build six new nuclear power plants on its territory in the coming decades.

The two officials also discussed the EU’s strategy in helping Ukraine to defend itself against Russia’s aggression, the need to maintain EU unity on the matter of sanctions against Russia and Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union. Prime Minister Fiala said later that the talks had also touched on President Macron’s telephone conversations with President Putin, which some have criticized as useless in this phase of the war.

French President Emmanuel Macron received Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala at Elysee Palace  | Photo:  Office of Czech Government

“Emmanuel Macron assured me that his phone calls with the Russian president do not reflect any degree of acceptance of what he is doing. He merely feels it is important to talk to him so as to know his mid-set and just how far he is ready to go to realize his goals.”

Mr. Fiala said other topics discussed were Czech-French cooperation in international peacekeeping missions in Estonia and Mali and Czech interest in French knowhow in building a high-speed rail network, a task that awaits the Czech Republic in the coming decades. The Czech prime minister emphasized the long history of the strategic partnership between the two countries and expressed the conviction that their role in presiding over the EU at this difficult time would further strengthen Czech-French relations.