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Russia may lift food import ban from Greece if it quits EU - Russian agriculture minister

January 16, 2015, 23:55 UTC+3 BERLIN
“If Greece has to leave the European Union, we will build our own relations with it, the food ban will not be applicable to it,” he said
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© ТАСС/EPA/ALEXANDROS VLACHOS

BERLIN, January 16. /TASS/. Russia may lift its ban on food imports from Greece in the event it quits the European Union, Russian Minister of Agriculture Nikolai Fyodorov told a news conference in Berlin on Friday.

Fyodorov is leading an official Russian delegation to the International Green Week public exhibition for the food, agriculture, and gardening industry.

“If Greece has to leave the European Union, we will build our own relations with it, the food ban will not be applicable to it,” he said.

He said that European Union countries, which felt discomfort from the slump in proceeds from exports of foods to Russia, were asking Russia to cushion the impacts of the Russian food import ban by expanding other types of imports. “We are looking at such possibility,” he said, adding that these countries offer new formats of cooperation in those areas that are not covered by the Russian food sanctions.

Meanwhile he stressed that Russia did not plan to toughen its sanctions. “As concerns possible new sanctions, we are not looking at any such proposals from any structures,” he added.

Earlier on Friday, Fyodorov met with his German counterpart, Christian Schmidt, to discuss possible expansion of cooperation and mutual trade in agricultural products. The two ministers agreed that Russia and Germany may expand mutual trade in food products in the framework of the current laws.

“We cannot solve pressing political problems, but we can maintain dialogue in the current conditions,” the German minister said. “We can make trade between our countries more intensive.”

The Russian minister shared this opinion saying, the Berlin exhibitions was a “non-political event working on problems of food security.”

“We discussed possible expansion of cooperation and mutual trade in agricultural products and agreed to work in the new conditions strictly within the frameworks of the current legislation of Russia, the Customs Union, Germany and the European Union,” Fyodorov said.

“The dialogue was intensive and concrete, we spoke about how we can develop our cooperation,” Schmidt told journalists.

Ahead of the International Green Week, the German mass media reported that Schmidt planned to raise the subject of possible mitigation of Russia’s food sanctions at his meeting with his Russian counterpart.

According to the Russian ministry of agriculture, German exports of foods to Russia have dropped by 23%, or 500 million U.S. dollars, since August 2014, when Russia imposed a package of measures to respond to economic sanction from the United States, Australia, Canada, the European Union and Norway. Thus, Russia banned for a term of one year the imports of fruit, vegetables, milk and dairy products from these countries. Some types of ready-to-eat meat and fish products (with the exception of sausages) have not fallen under the ban.

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