BRUSSELS, March 19. /TASS/. Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar said on Thursday his country was against European Union’s extending sanctions imposed on Russia over Ukraine.
"I don’t think it is time to expand sanctions. We must be flexible, we must see how terms of the agreements reached in Minsk are implemented," said the prime minister as he arrived in Brussels for an EU summit.
He said, however, that the European Union should be well prepared for any scenario, including an expansion and extension of sanctions.
Miro Cerar said his conversations with presidents of EU member countries had demonstrated differences in stances on further sanctions, adding that a compromise must be searched for.
According to Bloomberg, seven EU countries were expected to reject the extension of the Western sanctions against Russia - Cyprus, Greece, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Spain and Italy.
Most of the EU’s economic sectoral sanctions against Russia are due to expire in July.
The majority of Brussels experts say that Europe’s sanctions pressure has had no practical influence on the Russian policy in regard to Ukraine and has only increased the anti-European sentiment in Russia.
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 in Ukraine.
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 on July 31 2014 for 12 months.
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.
To make a decision on any changes to the sanctions, be it an extension or lifting, all 28 European Union member states must have a full consensus.
At the present moment, at least seven EU countries: Greece, Cyprus, Austria, Italy, Spain, Hungary and Slovakia are against an automatic prolongation of sanctions. France, Luxemburg, Malta and some other states have a moderate stance on the issue. The Baltic States, Sweden and Great Britain are actively seeking that sanctions be extended.