MOSCOW, February 25. /TASS/. The tests in relations between Russia and the European Union have been created in an artificial way, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said at the meeting with the president of the French Senate, Gerard Larcher.
"The relations are undergoing serious tests created artificially. This does not contribute to foreign policy cooperation, while the number of threats has not decreased," Lavrov said on Wednesday.
The Russian foreign minister said the current situation in Syria and Iraq needs joint steps on "neutralizing threats of terrorism and extremism."
Lavrov said Moscow appreciates Larcher’s interest towards overcoming the current uneasy period in relations between Russia and Europe. He also said he expected to exchange views on topical issues at talks.
Many politicians and business representatives of France do not want the relations with Russia to "become hostage of a foreign policy and political environment," Lavrov said.
This is Larcher’s first visit outside the EU since he assumed office in October 2014.
"You have a rich program in Moscow and I am convinced that you will be able to have a more correct impression on what is happening in the relations between Russia and the West and how we see the ways to remedy the situation," Lavrov said.
In his turn, Larcher said: "It is important that the channels of inter-parliamentary cooperation should remain open." He noted that the parliaments of the Normandy Four countries (Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine) could cooperate in particular on defining a concept for decentralization in Ukraine.
The speaker of France’s Senate also thanked Lavrov for participating in the January 11 march in Paris in solidarity following the Charlie Hebdo attacks.
Russian officials and companies came under the first batch of Western sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, after Russia incorporated Crimea in mid-March 2014 after the February 2014 coup.
Despite Moscow’s repeated statements that the Crimean referendum on secession from Ukraine was in line with the international law and the UN Charter and in conformity with the precedent set by Kosovo’s secession from Serbia in 2008, the West and Kiev have refused to recognize the legality of Crimea’s reunification with Russia.
The West announced new, sectoral, restrictions against Russia in late July 2014, in particular, for what the West claimed was Moscow’s alleged involvement in protests in Ukraine’s south-east.
In response, Russia imposed on August 6, 2014 a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the European Union, the United States and Norway.
New punitive measures against Russia were imposed in September 2014.