BRUSSELS, February 2. /TASS/. Russia is still interested in continuing the strategic dialogue with the EU, Russia’s Ambassador to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov told the "EU-Russia Relations: Which Way Forward?" international conference at the Royal Flemish Academy on Monday.
"Russia remains interested in continuing the strategic dialogue with the EU and remains geographically, historically and culturally connected with Europe. Cooperation continues in various directions; our interests are similar on the Middle East settlement, fighting terrorism, countering drug trade and non-proliferation of mass destruction weapons. However, most of this work is blocked today," he said.
Russia has no plans to give up the idea of establishing a free trade zone between the 28-nation European Union and the Eurasian Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, Chizhov said on Monday.
"Russia is not going to surrender its strategic objective of creating this common free trade zone between the European Union and the Eurasian Customs Union," Chizhov told a round table meeting at the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium.
"This will require many years of work to harmonize our trade systems. But I consider this goal attainable," he added.
The EU sanctions do not favor settlement of the conflict in Ukraine and ruin relations between the community and Russia, Chizhov continued.
"The EU sanctions against Russia should be lifted," he said. "In its policies towards Russia, the EU remains dependent on the loud minority of the European countries aimed at confrontation with Russia and keeping the sanctions regime," Chizhov said. "The EU sanctions do not favor settlement of the conflict in Ukraine, they ruin the relations between Russia and the European Union, undermine the EU image of mediator in settlement of the conflict," he said.
The European Union claims Russia is responsible for the Ukrainian crisis, though it ignores shelling of Donetsk, Luhansk and other towns by the governmental military, Chizhov said.
"The EU prefers to announce Russia's responsible fully for the Ukrainian crisis, though ignores the ongoing shelling of Donetsk, Luhansk, Gorlovka and other towns by governmental military, which kill civilians, women and children. However, I still have not seen a single call from the EU on Kiev to stop the artillery fire" he noted.
The aggressive anti-Russian campaign in the European media contradicts the freedom of speech, Chizhov said.
"European scientists and public figures calling for common language with Russia suffer pressure and are discredited in the media, which claim their actions undermine some 'European unity'. It is not quite clear how this approach could go in line with the European values of pluralism and freedom of opinion." he said.