PRAGUE, May 3. /TASS/. The West should abandon its sanctions against Russia as they only whip up tensions and in no way promote de-escalation, Czech President Milos Zeman told TASS on Sunday.
"The sanctions are not merely inefficient, on the contrary, they are counterproductive. They only whip up tensions instead of promoting de-escalation. This opinion is shared by Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann, who said they were stupid things, This opinion is shared by Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban," the Czech president said and called for the soonest abandonment of the anti-Russian sanctions. He said trying to press Russia was an unproductive effort only enhancing strains in the relations between Russia and the West.
Zeman said he was sorry the aggravation of the situation in Ukraine had delayed plans of visa-free travel regime between Russia and the European Union. "During European Union-Russia summits, this issue was already gelled but, regrettably, talks on that matter have been frozen over the Ukrainian crisis," he said. "But I am absolutely confident they will be finally resumed."
The Czech president stressed the importance of cooperation between Russia and the European Union. "Russia and the European Union are economically supplementary," he said. "Their economies are complementary. They are not rivals but are geared towards cooperation. Russian needs advanced technologies, while the European Union needs imported raw materials and resources. Both sides will benefit from pooling their economic possibilities."
The Czech president said he would not rule out that in the foreseeable future the European Union and Russia would integrate. "Russia will join the European Union or, if you like, you may think that the European Union will join Russia. The result will be the same. The process of unification will be realized within 20 years," Zeman noted.
Czech President Milos Zeman also said he had doubts Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk was really doing anything to facilitate the implementation of the Minsk agreements that are to be strictly observed by both conflicting parties.
"Parties to the conflict must observe the Minsk agreements. I think [Ukrainian] President [Pyotr] Poroshenko is trying to do that, but I have certain doubts that Prime Minister [Arseniy] Yatsenyuk is doing the same," the Czech leader said in an interview with TASS.
When asked about the importance of unbiased media reports about the developments in southeastern Ukraine and journalists’ role in the settlement of the conflict, Zeman expressed concern over the growing number of deaths of journalists in that country. He said it would be expedient if the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) assumed supervision over the work of journalists in the zone of combat operation.
"The best solution is to enhance the role of the OSCE mission in disengagement of the conflict parties. It means that the mission should be expanded to have more possibilities to establish the attacking and defending parties," he noted.