“We’ll see whether there is any progress in this direction. Then we can move towards lifting the sanctions,” she told a news conference after a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels.
Merkel stressed that the EU imposed its sanctions on Russia in response to developments in Ukraine and the sanctions could be removed if the cause for imposing them was eliminated. She also said she hoped that EU countries would have a consolidated position if it was necessary to extend the sanctions.
A diplomatic source in Brussels said on Friday heads of state and government from the 28-nation European Union will consider the fulfilment of the Minsk peace agreements and the possibility of lifting the bloc’s sanctions against Russia at a summit in March 2015.
“Certain sanctions against Russia may be lifted at an EU summit in Brussels in March,” the source told TASS.Earlier in the day, another European diplomat said on the sidelines of a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels that tougher sanctions against Russia were not on the bloc's agenda at the moment.
“The revision of the sanctions regime against Russia will be considered at a European Council meeting in spring 2015,” the diplomat said.
“At this point, the current restrictive measures against individuals [blacklists of Russian and Ukrainian citizens] will expire, and it will be necessary to decide whether to extend the sanctions or revise them,” he said, noting that “a lot will depend on practical steps to deescalate the conflict in Ukraine”.
French President Francois Hollande also said there was no need at present to tighten European Union sanctions against Russia.
“We expect there is no reason to take new sanctions and we also are going to look how we could engage in a de-escalation,” Hollande told journalists after the meeting in Brussels.