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Lavrov and Steinmeier to discuss Syria and implementation of Minsk Agreements

March 23, 2016, 5:59 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Frank-Walter Steinmeier will also meet with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier

© Alexander Shcherbak/TASS

MOSCOW, March 23. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier will hold talks in Moscow today. Steinmeier will arrive in the Russian capital as a current chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Bilateral relations in all spheres are on the agenda. The sides will continue exchanging opinions on key international problems, including the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, progress in the peaceful process in Syria, issues of European security, fight against international terrorism (which is particularly relevant after Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels), OSCE topics.

Steinmeier will also meet with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The sides will discuss economic and investment issues.

Bilateral relations

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that Russian-German dialogue still remains "an important factor of European and global policy that influences the resolution of many world problems." Russia and Germany continue developing inter-parliamentary and inter-regional contacts.

Last year the bilateral trade turnover continued declining. In 2015 it fell by 34.7% compared to 2014 and stood at $45.8 billion. At the same time, Russian exports to Germany decreased by 31.7% to $25.4 billion, imports - by 38% to $20.4 billion.

The number of companies with German participation fell from 6,000 to around 5,600, though Germany still remains one of Russia’s key investment partners. According to the Bank of Russia, the total volume of accumulated German investment exceeds $12.4 billion.

In social ties, the foreign ministry reminded, the Russian-German Petersburg Dialogue public forum occupies a top position as it resumed its work in 2015. The next session of the forum will take place in St. Petersburg on July 15-16.

Moscow also noted fruitful cooperation in the historical-memorial sphere. In particular, the Commission on studying modern history of Russian-German relations continue working very actively.

The German side services Soviet military cemeteries in Germany in accordance with the inter-governmental agreement on preserving military graves from 16 December 1992. There are 3,310 Soviet military cemeteries on the territory of Germany where 760,000 Russian/Soviet citizens rest.

Relations with EU

The foreign ministers will also focus on the relations between Russia and the European Union (EU) as "partnership for modernization" is going through rather rocky times because of the Ukrainian crisis. At a recent meeting with EU representatives at the Russian Foreign Ministry, Moscow called on Brussels "to exert more serious pressure on Kiev to finally get results in the investigation of resonance cases of lawlessness, including ‘the sniper case’, tragedy in Odessa, murder of journalist Oles Buzina."

The latest statement of EU’s leadership have not contributed to improving relations as well. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini called on UN member countries to impose sanctions on Russia because of Crimea. Moscow described this as "hypocrisy" adding that methods of political and economic pressure have absolutely no prospects.

Russia also criticized EU’s guiding principles in relations with Moscow that include demands to implement Minsk-2, conditions of holding dialogue on energy and intention to develop selective cooperation.

"We are used to choosing the menu by ourselves. Whether it is full-fledged is a topic for mutually acceptable agreements not for bilateral approaches," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.


The current OSCE’s agenda also includes the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. Moscow claims that Kiev have being sabotaging the fulfillment of the political part of the agreements. The constitutional reform has not been adopted, and the law on local election in Donbass has not been coordinated. Kiev authorities say that they first want to regain control over the Russian-Ukrainian border, but Moscow says that Minsk-2 stipulates that this is the last point for implementation.

The "Normandy Quartet" (Russia, Germany, France, Ukraine) agreed that local election should be held in the first half of 2016. Steinmeier previously said that the security situation should not serve as justification for the sides to not work on the law on election.

The threat of escalation on the contact line in Donbass has recently emerged. "Consecutive steps of Ukrainian military on capturing ‘neutral zone’ along the contact line lead to a dangerous convergence of the positions of the sides and provoke intensification of clashes," Russia’s envoy to OSCE Alexander Lukashevich said. "We are not even talking about the fact that it goes against the Minsk Package of measures," he added.

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