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Moscow surprised as Germany places politics above economy — Lavrov

October 25, 2016, 12:03 UTC+3 MOSCOW

According to the minister, Russia would like to see the European Union united, consolidated and independent

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© Mikhail Japaridze/TASS

MOSCOW, October 25. /TASS/. Moscow is taken aback as Germany places politics above economy, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday at the meeting with the members of the Association of European Businesses (AEB).

"We are surprised that the pragmatic EU members who traditionally were best known for their commitment to Realpolitik take the lead from the Russophobic minority demanding to place politics above economy in the relations with Moscow," Lavrov said.

"Probably, we were completely wrong when we made assessments about the German character in the course of the centuries-old ties with this great country," he added.

The strategic review of relations with Russia at the meeting of the European Council last week showed that "the EU is still not ready to develop a pragmatic line" towards Moscow that meets its own interests, Lavrov said.

"Everything that is aimed at undermining relations in this sphere (economic cooperation) for the sake of geopolitical considerations, I hope all this is superficial and will be washed away by a wave of purely economic interests," he added.

Syria used as pretext to undermine positive dynamics

The Russian foreign minister has pointed out that some countries were using the fight against the threat of terrorism in Syria as another pretext to pressure Moscow.

"The situation in Syria is being used as another pretext to undermine any positive dynamics in relations with Russia by some EU member states," the minister pointed out. "Russia has consistently supported an early peaceful and fair settlement to the Syrian conflict. Our main goals are the complete elimination of the terrorist threat in this country and the simultaneous launch of a comprehensive political process based on the UN Security Council’s resolutions and the decisions by the International Syria Support Group."

"The ways of accomplishing these goals were assessed in particular on October 19 in Berlin during the talks between President Putin and the German and French leaders," Lavrov noted. "Before that, this topic had been discussed in Lausanne. Our conclusion remains the same: the immediate and full separation of the opposition from the Islamic State (IS, terror group outlawed in Russia), Jabhat al-Nusra and other terror groups remain the most important thing."

"Our US counterparts have promised us to do that eight months ago but they have done nothing so far. It is hard to believe in Washington’s helplessness as the US has been declaring its exceptionalism and indispensability in international affairs," the Russian minister emphasized. "Perhaps, these are the qualities of the US people and the US government that need to be employed for good in order to solve the problem of isolating terrorists and ensure their elimination."

Lavrov pointed out that the Russian Aerospace Force units were deployed to Syria upon the legitimate government’s request. "However, we are interested in a collective struggle against terror that would be based on a solid international legal framework," the Russian minister stressed. 

The West’s Russophobes have been exploiting the Syrian topic widely, which is indecent and cynical of them, Lavrov noted: 

"Now Syria is widely seen as another topic that could be used by Russophobes who are speculating on people’s sufferings and humanitarian aspects of the Syrian crisis. All these Russophobes are being dragged into the anti-Russian propaganda campaign."

"It is indecent and cynical. I hope everybody understands that." 

Russia wants EU to be united, independent

According to the minister, Russia would like to see the European Union united, consolidated and independent.

"We have pointed out more than once that we want to see the European Union strong, united and independent,’ he explained. "We are confident that projects of great importance can be implemented."

"Attempts to punish us have not produced any results so far and will not produce any in the future. Washington said Russia’s economy was ‘in tatters’ but that is not true. Russia has a strong footing," the minister stressed.

According to the diplomat, Russia has embarked on the path of self-sufficiency, but this does not mean that Moscow has abandoned cooperation with the EU.

"Amid such a massive attack from some leading Western capitals and their statements that this is for the long haul, that it is necessary to mobilize a unified anti-Russian front, how can we expect in key areas that someone will sell us the technologies that we need? We will do all this here in Russia. However, this by no means indicates that we have slammed the door," he said.

According to Lavrov, those interested in trade ties with Russia can always "agree on such rules of cooperation that our countermeasures do not violate and ensure normal business operations." "The policy of dictating has proved to be infectious. Taking cue from Americans who have already fallen out of the habit of relying on diplomacy, as soon as something is not in accordance with their plans, are quick to use the sanctions tools, and the EU has embarked on the same path," Lavrov noted. "As soon as they come across the need to thoroughly develop a balanced approach to a particular problem, as soon as they realize that their approaches cannot be accepted one hundred percent, they begin threatening with sanctions."

Russia’s diplomat noted that work on a new version of Russia’s foreign policy concept is nearing completion. "Its key areas remain unchanged," the minister said. "Our major objective is to ensure the most favorable external environment for the country’s economic development, to improve our citizen’s welfare, to provide an opportunity for our citizens and businesses to work on the international stage freely and without discrimination, particularly, in economy and investment as well as in the sphere of our citizens’ trips abroad."

Cooperation in anti-terror fight

Lavrov has also expressed his regret over the West scaling down cooperation with Russia in the fight against terrorism.

"We regret that our European partners have curtailed cooperation in the anti-terror sphere like in many other areas," Lavrov said at the meeting.

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