ST.PETERSBURG, June 16 /TASS/. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vasily Nebenzya has described as "original" the idea of France’s former president Nicolas Sarkozy that Moscow should initiate the removal of the anti-Russian sanctions.
During his speech at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on Thursday Sarkozy suggested that Russia be the first to lift its food embargo on the European Union and set an example to Brussels. The former president also said that the lifting of Russia’s "counter sanctions" would not be a manifestation of its weakness.
"Apparently, it is an unusual reverse. It is an original proposal, which needs to be grasped," Nebenzya told journalists on the SPIEF sidelines on Thursday.
The Russian authorities have said many times that they never raise the issue of anti-Russian sanctions at Russia’s negotiations with the European Union because Moscow was not the one who initiated them. Russian Minister of Economic Development Alexei Ulyukayev confirmed that stance at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on Thursday when he said that the food embargo, which Russia had imposed on EU in the summer of 2014 in retaliation to the EU sanctions, would be lifted only after Brussels removes its anti-Russian sanctions.
The European Union imposed sanctions on Russia over the events in Ukraine and Crimea’s reunification with Russia in 2014 and has expanded and extended them many times since then. The European Union suspended negotiations with Russia on a visa-free regime and on a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA); it imposed travel bans on a number of Russian officials and froze their assets abroad and introduced restrictive measures in trade, the finance sector and the military and defense industry. The EU sanctions list includes 151 individuals and 37 legal entities. Sectoral sanctions were imposed on 20 Russian financial, oil-extracting and defense structures.
In August 2014, Russia introduced a package of counter sanctions on the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada and Norway. They included a 12-month ban on imports of fruit, vegetables, dairy and meat products from the above-mentioned states.