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Hollande: Europe seeks to end anti-Russian sanctions as soon as possible

The French president calls for true ceasefire, elections in Donbass by year-end
French President Francois Hollande  Stephane de Sakutin, Pool via AP
French President Francois Hollande
© Stephane de Sakutin, Pool via AP

PARIS, August 30. /TASS/. France, the entire Europe and Russia are interested in ending sanctions and normalizing relations, French President Francois Hollande told an annual meeting with ambassadors in Paris on Tuesday.

"All of us are interested in lifting the sanctions regime as soon as possible and in the best way," Hollande said, stressing that both sides are suffering from the current chill in relations. "This has a high price and complicates the dialogue," the president emphasized.

Paris always remembers the special character of relations with Russia, underpinned by the centuries-old history, he added. "There are many indications now proving that we can maintain them today."

Hollande noted that the implementation of the Minsk peace deal signed by the leaders of the Normandy Four group (Russia, Ukraine, France, Germany) in February 2015 is delayed and the situation deteriorated this summer posing the risk of a new escalation of the conflict.

"Until the year-end there are two goals. First, security with de-militarization and established ceasefire checked and controlled by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Second, holding elections in accordance with Ukraine’s legislation and international standards," the president said.

Russia needs to play its role both in Ukraine and Syria to allow the settlement of these crises, he added.

"We will resume discussions with Russian President Putin and Ukraine’s President Poroshenko to ensure ceasefire and free elections," Hollande said.