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MOSCOW, April 5. /TASS/. France is ready to facilitate the preparation of a decision on lifting anti-Russian sanctions which will be discussed at EU’s summit at the end of June or beginning of July, French Senate Speaker Gerard Larcher said on Tuesday.
"The EU summit will take place at the end of June or beginning of July. The European Commission is currently working on this issue, and it will then make relevant proposals," Larcher said in response to a TASS question.
"We have to prepare now as there is no certainty in saying that sanctions should continue. It is necessary to look for other solutions," he added.
"In any case, we want to help ease this process," the Senate speaker said. The sides of conflict in Ukraine, as well as Russia, should also facilitate this process through implementation of the Minsk Agreements, he noted. "This step (lifting sanctions) that we hope for will be much easier if the Minsk Agreements are implemented," he concluded.
The West, inspired by the United States, subjected Russian officials and companies to the first batch of sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, after Russia incorporated Crimea in mid-March 2014 after a coup in Ukraine in February that year. New, sectoral, penalties against Russia were announced in late July 2014 over Moscow’s position on Ukrainian events, in particular, what the West claimed was Russia’s alleged involvement in hostilities in Ukraine’s embattled south-east.
Russia responded with imposing on August 6, 2014 a ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the EU, the United States and Norway. The Russian authorities have repeatedly denied accusations of "annexing" Crimea because Crimea reunified with Russia voluntarily after a referendum, and Moscow has repeatedly dismissed Western allegations that it could in any way be involved in hostilities in the south-east of Ukraine.