Can French President decide the recognition status of another territory/state?


According to this Wikipedia article, Marine Le Pen promised the recognition of Russian annexation of Crimea if elected as a president:

According to Russian media, Le Pen has promised to recognize the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea (from Ukraine) in case she is elected President of France.

The cited link (original in Russian, Google translated) states that:

"Taking into account the historical realities, as well as a choice which was clearly expressed in the referendum on the accession [of Crimea to Russia], I, if elected, recognize Crimea Russian territory", - said the politician.

Political status of Crimea seems to be very complicated, as only a few United Nations members recognized Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol:

The following members of the United Nations have made statements about their recognition of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol as federal subjects of Russia: Afghanistan, Cuba, Kyrgyzstan, Nicaragua, North Korea[42] Syria and Venezuela.

So, no EU countries recognize this new autonomous territory.

Question: is it possible for the President to decide the policy regarding recognition of a new state?


Posted 2017-04-02T11:12:20.190

Reputation: 43 325

1I have narrowed the scope to France only. I think a general question is too broad, although I find it very interesting as well. – Alexei – 2017-04-02T11:38:44.020

As a starting point, the Foreign Minister of French did recognise Kosovo some years back. – Panda – 2017-04-02T23:24:36.930



France is a sovereign nation. It is free to set whatever policies it sees fit. The president of France, as the head of state, is in charge of setting those policies. Therefore Le Pen would be free to recognize Crimea as territory of Russia if she became president.

The fact that France is in the EU doesn't really come into play here. The EU does not have the power to mandate what its member states can recognize. For example, take Palestine. Some EU members recognize Palestine, while others do not.

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Crimea would be the same thing.

David says Reinstate Monica

Posted 2017-04-02T11:12:20.190

Reputation: 10 193


But, of all of the French government, can the President isue that recognition? Certainly, External affairs does not appear to be one of his powers, according to Wikipedia: Could it be something that is to be decided by the Prime Minister of France or its government?

– SJuan76 – 2017-04-02T16:25:13.270

I think that recognizing Crimea state would mean more than recognizing Palestine, since Russian - EU relation is much complicated (e.g. energetic dependence, ex. Soviet states wanting to escape Russian influence and even join EU). – Alexei – 2017-04-02T16:50:27.500

@Alexei but what your point in your comment is "what could the consequences be if France recognized Crimea as Russian?", which would be a different question (and most possibly an off-topic one) from the original one. – SJuan76 – 2017-04-02T17:06:48.363

@SJuan76 - I was referring to the comparison between Crimea and Palestine. While theoretically states are allowed to recognize other states as they see fit, I think Crimea means much more than Palestine due to geopolitical reasons (does EU simply accept that Russia can invade a foreign state so close to EU borders?). Also, EU decided some economical sanctions towards Russia due to invasion of Ukraine. If one of the most important EU countries decides this is no longer a problem, there may be a breach in these economical sanctions. – Alexei – 2017-04-02T17:45:13.137

@SJuan76 Yes, I do believe the president can. The PM role in France is not super important, the presidency is where all the power really lies. Also the French foreign ministry reports to the president, not the PM. – David says Reinstate Monica – 2017-04-02T17:46:08.207

@Alexei You're totally right that if France recognized Crimea as part of Russia it would complicate EU sanctions, but France still has full rights to do this. Remember, France is a sovereign nation. It is in most cases not legally forced to do what the EU tells it. Plus Le Pen is anti-EU, so the EU yelling at her wouldn't do much. – David says Reinstate Monica – 2017-04-02T17:47:35.273

@DavidGrinberg - that's correct. However, that question about her being able to single handedly decide on this matter still remains. – Alexei – 2017-04-02T17:49:32.837

@Alexei Yes, she can. I said it in my answer: The president of France, as the head of state, is in charge of setting those policies. Therefore Le Pen would be free to recognize Crimea as territory of Russia if she became president. – David says Reinstate Monica – 2017-04-02T17:51:03.570

Le Pen told BBC after she is elected to be POTFR, France will start the process of quitting "globalist" organizations such as NATO and EU. So this question could soon be a non-question. – Dylan Czenski – 2017-04-03T03:35:06.613

@DavidGrinberg I think the question is about Crimea, which is more like EU members' dispute over who owns Hans Island, rather than their dispute over whether or not Palestine is a sovereign nation.

– Dylan Czenski – 2017-04-03T03:38:36.910

Kosovo is another example. – Relaxed – 2017-07-06T22:19:34.237

@DavidGrinberg Actually, the powers of the prime minister are extensive and the president can only do very little alone. It's also true that in practice the president decides everything but formally the cabinet or parliament carry out those decisions. As a matter of fact, Bernard Cazeneuve prepared a plan to stay put until the parliamentary election in the hope that the Front National would fail to secure a majority and to block Marine Le Pen from doing much in the meantime. This would have been perfectly legal (but highly unusual). – Relaxed – 2017-07-06T22:24:48.980