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Russia willing to compromise with EU based on mutual respect of interests — Putin

January 11, 2016, 8:06 UTC+3 SOCHI

The Russian president also said that his prime aim was always to stand up for the national interests of Russia

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German chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian president Vladimir Putin and French president Francois Hollande

German chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian president Vladimir Putin and French president Francois Hollande

© Mikhail Metzel/TASS, archive

SOCHI, January 11. /TASS/. Russia is ready to seek compromises with the European Union, but on the grounds of common approach and mutual observation of the international law, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with German daily Bild.

"We are ready for it, but not in the manner of confrontations, as we are ready to seek compromises based on the international legal norms, which must be commonly interpreted by the all involved sides," Putin said.

The Russian president also said that his prime aim was always to stand up for the national interests of Russia.

"You have asked me whether I am a friend or not," Putin said addressing a Bild journalist. "Relations between countries are rather different unlike relations between individual people."

"I am neither a friend, nor a bride, nor a groom, as I am the president of the Russian Federation with a population of 146 million people and they all have their personal interests and I must guarantee the protection of these interests," Putin said.

According to Putin, in order to build constructive relations between the countries "it is necessary to go by at least one rule, which is the mutual respect and the respect of interests of each other and the compliance with common rules instead of changing them each time for certain benefits."

As an example Putin cited the Western reaction to the independence of Kosovo and Crimea saying that the democracy is the will of people, in other words, both in Kosovo and in Crimea people wanted to live the way they had voted at referendums.

"The most important for me is the fate of people and not the territory or the borders," he said. "I would now like to ask you that when Kosovars in Kosovo have the right for the self-determination, why residents of Crimea have no such right?"

Putin said it was extremely important to abide by the international law adding that "in case with Crimea the international law was not breached."

He said that in case with Kosovo the UN International Court decided it was unnecessary to take into account the opinion of the central authorities if the status of sovereignty was at the issue.

"If you are a respected daily and not lying to your readers find in your archive a speech delivered by a German representative at this very same International Court and quote it," he said. "Take for instance a letter, delivered in my opinion by the US Department of State, or a report by a representative of Britain. Find it and read what had been written there."

"Kosovo declared its independence and the whole world accepted it, but what was the cause of it? It was the parliament’s decision. They did not even hold a referendum," Putin said.

Whereas in Crimea, he said, the legitimate parliament voted for independence, slated a referendum and the local citizens voted for the reunification with Russia.

"What did we do? We never fought a war, we never occupied anyone, we never shot a gun and not a single person was killed as a result of the events in Crimea. Not a single one," he said.

"We have used Armed Forces only to restrain over 20,000 Ukrainian military personnel present there at that time from interrupting the local residents from expressing their free will," Putin said. "People attended the referendum and cast their votes. They decided to become the part of Russia."

The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean peninsula, where most residents are Russians, signed reunification deals with Russia on March 18, 2014 after a referendum two days earlier in which an overwhelming majority of Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.

In the Soviet Union, Crimea used to be part of Russia until 1954, when it was gifted to Ukraine by Soviet Communist Party leader Nikita Khrushchev.

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