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Madrid and Moscow maintain good relations — Spanish diplomat

Spainish diplomat welcomes current relations with Russia, considers it a very important country in Europe

MADRID, June 16. /TASS/. The relations between Spain and Russia remain at the good level despite difficulties between Brussels and Moscow, Spanish State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ignacio Ybanez told TASS in an interview.

"We are two European countries and should maintain close relations," Ybanez said. "In the sphere of bilateral ties, everything is working well, and we enjoy an established rhythm of political consultations, including in the sphere of economy, despite a difficult situation in relations between EU and Russia," he added. The state secretary for foreign affairs stressed that "the aim of sanctions imposed by EU is to encourage Russia to facilitate stabilization of the situation in Ukraine."

"It seems lately that talks on implementation of the Minsk Agreements - which were signed by Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France - are moving forward, and it’s a good signal. Spain always thought that sanctions are necessary to encourage Russia to change its behavior," Ybanez noted.

"However, Spain also insisted that despite sanctions, it is extremely important to maintain dialogue with Russia, it is important to talk about disagreements. We think that there are many spheres which Russia, EU and other Western countries should discuss more and more every time. They include crisis in Syria, for instance, where Russia and US cooperate," he continued.

"When EU decided to impose sanctions on Russia, and Russia introduced its own sanctions in response which directly affected important sectors of material production in Spain. The Spanish economy also suffered from the decreasing number Russian tourists as this sphere is very important for our GDP," Ybanez said adding that it is important "to work to restore good relations." "We continue to maintain direct contacts with Russia, and the situation is moving forward though at a slower pace (than expected)," he added.

"If the Minsk Agreements are implemented, we - EU - will be ready to reconsider sanctions," he noted.

"Russia is a very important country in Europe," Ybanez concluded.