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PARIS, June 15. /TASS/. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Wednesday prior to leaving for the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) that he speaks for stage-by-stage lifting of European sanctions against Russia.
"We don’t need one more cold war," Sarkozy said as quoted by Agence France Presse. "I can’t approve the construction of a political wall dividing Russia and the European continent after the fall of the iron curtain."
"We need positive shifts in Russian-European relations. These could be gradual and reciprocal lifting of sanctions, reciprocal steps by both sides," he explained.
The ex-president also spoke with criticism of the United States’ actions in the sphere of missile defense in Europe.
"Back in 2010 I spoke for Russia’s admission to the missile defense system for the Russians not to think it is aimed against them. This is a right decision. But the idea was rejected," he said.
"Even with account for my friendly feelings toward the American people I want to say directly: it is not up to Obama to decide who is the enemy for France and who not," Sarkozy said.
For incorporation of Crimea after last year’s coup in Ukraine, Russia came under sanctions on the part of the United States and many European countries. The restrictive measures were soon intensified following Western and Ukrainian claims that Russia supported militias in self-proclaimed republics in Ukraine’s southeast and was involved in destabilization of Ukraine.
As countermeasures, 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.
The Russian authorities have repeatedly denied accusations of "annexing" Crimea, because Crimea reunified with Russia voluntarily after a referendum.
A system of import substitution had to be introduced in Russia in connection with imposition of Western sanctions on Russia for developments in Ukraine and Moscow’s countersanctions.