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EU wants to keep communication channels with Russia open

Additionally, the sides discussed the future EU sanctions over the incident with Russian blogger Alexey Navalny as well as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the situation in Belarus

BRUSSELS, October 13. /TASS/. EU top diplomat Josep Borrell conducted a phone conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday during which he stated the EU desire to keep the communication channels with Russia open and to enhance the cooperation, the statement by the European External Action Service said.

Additionally, the sides discussed the future EU sanctions over the incident with Russian blogger Alexey Navalny as well as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the situation in Belarus.

Relations with Russia and sanctions over Navalny

The European Union wants to keep open channels of communication with Russia and strengthen cooperation on issues of mutual interest, the EU top diplomat told his Russian counterpart. "As illustrated by the phone call, the High Representative (of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy - TASS) reiterated that the European Union wishes to maintain open channels of communication with Russia and to enhance cooperation on issues of mutual interest," the statement noted.

The High Representative has also informed Russia’s Foreign Minister on the results of the EU Foreign Affairs Council of October 12, where, among other issues, the relations with Russia were discussed. "High Representative/Vice-President Borrell also informed Minister Lavrov of the agreement among EU Foreign Ministers to continue the current approach to EU-Russia relations, whereby the full implementation of the Minsk agreements remains key. He called on Russia to fully implement the Minsk agreements," the statement informed.

The statement also noted that the High Representative informed Russia’s top diplomat about the political decision of the EU Council to introduce sanctions against those who, according to the EU, are responsible for the alleged poisoning of blogger Alexey Navalny and also urged to conduct an investigation in Russia. "The High Representative informed of the political agreement reached at the Foreign Affairs Council of 12 October to begin the preparatory work to sanction those linked to this assassination attempt. High Representative Borrell underlined that the Russian government must do its utmost to investigate this crime thoroughly in full transparency and to fully cooperate with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)," the statement noted.

Earlier on Monday, Borrell stated at a press conference after the EU Council meeting that the incident with Alexey Navalny and the EU sanctions planned cannot define the relations between the EU and Russia. According to him, this incident should not interfere with the consideration of all other issues with Russia.

Commendation for Karabakh

As the statement said, the EU top diplomat thanked his Russian counterpart for his efforts on the ceasefire agreement in Nagorno-Karabakh, emphasizing the importance of its observance. "On Nagorno-Karabakh, the High Representative/Vice-President thanked Minister Lavrov for his efforts in negotiating the 10 October ceasefire agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan and stressed the need for this ceasefire to be strictly observed, for all hostilities to cease immediately and for a de-escalation of tensions, including rhetoric," it noted.

According to his words, "the loss of life and the toll on the civilian population on both sides are unacceptable." "The High Representative/Vice-President expressed the European Union’s full support to the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and reiterated that in his contacts with the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, he had called on both sides to urgently re-engage in meaningful negotiations without preconditions. The European Union stands ready to contribute to their efforts," the document said.

Crisis in Belarus

The EU top diplomat has also discussed with Russia’s Foreign Minister the situation in Belarus. He urged Russia to support the OSCE initiative to facilitate a dialogue. "The European Union continues to support the proposal of the current and upcoming OSCE Chairmanships-in-Office to facilitate a much-needed inclusive national dialogue in Belarus. The High Representative regretted that Belarus, as an OSCE participating State, was not responsive to this offer, and encouraged Russia, as an OSCE participating State, to support this initiative," the document noted.

He "reiterated the European Union’s united and strong support to Belarus’ independence and sovereignty." "High Representative Borrell underlined the democratic right of the Belarusian people to elect their president through new, free and fair elections, without external interference," the statement noted.

Additionally, the High Representative informed the Russian Foreign Minister that top diplomats of 27 countries of the EU at the October 12 meeting "gave the political green light to start the preparation of the next sanctions package, including against Aleksandr Lukashenko.".