MOSCOW, February 28. /TASS/. On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold talks with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz who has arrived in Moscow on a working visit. It is going to be the first meeting of the two leaders after Kurz, 31, took office following the early parliamentary election in late 2017.
According to the Kremlin press service, there will be "a discussion of the current state of and prospects for bilateral relations, particularly trade, economic, energy, cultural and humanitarian ties." Putin and Kurz are also expected to "exchange views on pressing global and regional issues." Austrian sources said earlier that the two leaders would touch upon "relations between the two countries, as well as relations between Russia and the European Union, the Ukrainian crisis and the Syria issue."
"Russia is important partner and neighbor of the European Union and we need to maintain dialogue with Russia," the Austrian chancellor’s office said. "It is possible to ensure peace only through cooperating with Russia rather than through opposing it. We need to put an end to bloc thinking and reconsider trends in our current relations with Russia," the office noted, adding that Kurz would confirm the EU’s position concerning the need to maintain sanctions on Moscow until the Minsk Agreements [on resolving the Ukrainian crisis] were fully implemented.
Kurz himself said earlier that it would be reasonable to gradually remove sanctions against Russia as the Minsk process progressed.
The new Austrian chancellor also said that Vienna had a positive view of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project but it was ready to take into account different views voiced by its EU partners. "We are positive about this project but that does not mean that we will not take into consideration the interests and doubts that some of our European Union partners have," Kurz said.
The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is scheduled to be put into operation in late 2019. The pipeline, set to run from the Russian coast along the Baltic Sea bed to the German shore, is expected to connect the Russian resource base with European customers.
Austrian businessmen appear to be determined to develop economic relations with Russia. In particular, delegations from Austria and Germany will participate in the Yalta International Economic Forum (YIEF), due in Crimea on April 19-21, as guests of honor. According to the forum organizers, the prospects for removing sanctions on Russia and ways to restore Russia’s relations with Germany and Austria will top the agenda.