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Steinmeier expects Russia-EU rapprochement in coming years

August 15, 8:49 UTC+3
The German foreign minister stresses the importance to maintain dialogue with Russia despite current disagreements
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German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier

© EPA/KALUS-DIETMAR GABBERT

YEKATERINBURG, August 15. /TASS/. Germany and Russia should maintain dialogue despite the persisting points of contention, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Monday.

"We have not overcome the crisis in our relationship…," he said. "However, Germany and Russia should not turn away from each other but maintain dialogue."

Steinmeier added that "it is important to avoid misunderstanding in security issues." Speaking about the reasons for deterioration of relations between Russia and Germany, he pointed to developments around Crimea and in Ukraine. The minister added that "Russia’s involvement in Syria was unexpected."

Steinmeier added that he is looking forward to rapprochement between Russia and the EU in the coming years.

"Many are looking forward to the political rapprochement between Russia and Europe in the years to come," he said. "I am one of them."

Germany hopes for cooperation with Russia on Aleppo

Germany hopes for cooperation with Russia on Aleppo, according to Steinmeier, Russia bears special responsibility in Aleppo, especially in securing humanitarian access.

"Russia bears special responsibility in Aleppo, especially in ensuring humanitarian access," he said. Steinmeier also called on all countries "to work together on a political settlement in Syria."

Steinmeier noted that a solution to the Syrian crisis "could only be achieved through joint effort." "When a period of Syria’s post-crisis recovery begins, Russia and Germany should work together, be it in Palmyra, Aleppo or Homs," he said. "I am confident that if we assume responsibility for preserving the world cultural heritage in this crisis region, this will contribute to the cultural rapprochement between our peoples."

Steinmeier added that the German side had drafted the Zero Hour project focusing on forces and resources in this area and invited Rusia to join cooperation to implement it.

The NATO-Russia Council's opportunities

According to the foreign minister, the opportunities of the NATO-Russia Council should be used, this is particularly necessary in the most difficult times.

He noted that NATO’s eastward expansion is seen by many as a threat. "We signed the NATO-Russia Founding Act in 1997 and set up the NATO-Russia Council precisely for this - to ease the feeling of mutual threat," he said.

"However, we need to ask ourselves whether we did everything to submit specific proposals and confidence-building projects to this Council," Steinmeier said. "It is necessary to use the opportunities of the NATO-Russia Council during particularly difficult times," he said. "That was enshrined as a political responsibility during the NATO summit in Poland, and the NATO-Russia Council convened, at least at the ambassadorial level."

Opportunities to implement the Minsk agreements

The minister went on to say that there are opportunities to implement the political part of the Minsk agreements.

"At the moment there are opportunities to make progress in implementing the political package of the Minsk agreement, particularly concerning laws on local elections, amnesty and granting special status to Ukraine’s eastern districts," he said.

Germany’s top diplomat drew attention to the fact that, even after the recent incident in Crimea, neither Moscow nor Kiev called for aggravating the situation pointing to their commitment to the implementation of the Minsk accords.

"I believe we can make progress in ensuring security in the conflict zone," Steinmeier said. "There are proposals that, if implemented, will make it possible for us to secure a more reliable ceasefire in Ukraine. I am confident that there are also opportunities to make progress in implementing the political package of the Minsk agreement, particularly in passing laws on local elections, amnesty and granting special status to Ukraine’s eastern districts."

"Considering the volatile situation in the world rocked by various crises, we will bend every effort to approach the solution to the Ukrainian crisis, and for that we need dialogue with Russia," the minister said.

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