French President Emmanuel Macron attends a press conference with Latvia's Prime Minister (unseen) after their meeting on September 30, 2020 in Riga, Latvia, during Macron's official visit to Latvia and the Baltic region. (Photo: AFP)
French President Emmanuel Macron urged Europe to seek a dialogue with Russia to enhance the continent's security rather than relying primarily on the NATO military alliance.
Speaking Wednesday in a news conference in Riga, the capital of the Baltic nation of Latvia, Macron said Europeans should be able to rethink their relation with Russia despite recent tensions after the poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.
``Our collective security imposes that, given geography, we need to discuss with Russians,'' he insisted.
During a three-day visit to Lithuania and Latvia, Macron sought to reassure that his goal was to build up Europe's defense capabilities as a complement to NATO _ not to replace it.
Macron's efforts towards Russia have prompted concerns from Baltic states, whose relations with Russia have remained icy for nearly 30 years since their independence in the wake of the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. Estonia and Latvia both have sizable ethnic-Russian minorities, while Lithuania's ethnic-Russian population is more minor.
Macron reiterated that Russia should provide clarifications on the poisoning of Navalny or the country would face international consequences _ but he did not elaborate on what those would be.
Macron, who once lamented the ``brain death'' at the NATO due to a lack of American leadership, last year launched efforts to try to thaw France's relations with Russia, which were damaged by Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.