France’s President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday he was coordinating efforts with Greece and Turkey for an initiative to help people leave the besieged city of Mariupol.
Macron said he hoped to convince Russia to allow the evacuation during talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin within the next 48-72 hours.
“There was a concrete discussion today with the Mayor of Mariupol. We are coordinating and we will then negotiate with the Russians,” Macron told reporters after an EU summit in Brussels.
“The quickest possible, we hope in the next few days. I will have a conversation with President Putin in the next 48 to 72 hours to finalize the details and modalities. It is urgent,” added Macron.
Joint initiative discussed at Macron-Mitsotakis meeting
Macron said that French officials had spoken on Friday to the mayor of Mariupol and that the 150,000 remaining residents were left trapped in “dramatic conditions”.
Greek government sources said that Macron discussed the initiative with Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis on the margins of the EU Summit. Greece has a special interest in Mariupol as tens of thousands of ethnic Greeks live in the area.
Prior to the meeting, at the NATO leaders’ meeting, Mitsotakis had referred to the tragedy taking place in Mariupol, which he said has been “almost wiped off the map”.
The joint initiative comes as officials at the city of Mariupol said that around 300 people were killed at the bombing of a theatre last week.
Petr Andryuschenko, advisor to the deputy mayor of Mariupol, in an interview with Newshour on the BBC World Service, said nearly 600 people were sheltering inside the theatre before the attack. Three hundred were in a shelter under the theatre.
Greece’s FM Dendias offered to accompany mission to Mariupol
Earlier in the week Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said on Tuesday that he intends to accompany a humanitarian mission to Mariupol.
“I am requesting today in an official note sent to the Ukrainian side that it facilitate and another note to the Russian side not to hinder the sending of humanitarian aid to Mariupol. I intend to accompany this mission in person, in coordination with the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Mauer, with whom we are already in contact,” Dendias noted.
Today I also sent a note verbale to the Ukrainian side asking for the facilitation of the delivery of humanitarian aid in #Mariupol and another note verbale to the Russian side asking not to obstruct it. I intend to accompany this aid in person. pic.twitter.com/h9VDer03oa
— Nikos Dendias (@NikosDendias) March 22, 2022