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Czech president urges West, Russia to end sanctions

Russia and the Czech Republic will sign 13 economic cooperation agreements worth about $20 following president Milos Zeman's visit to Moscow

SOCHI, November 21. /TASS/. Czech President Milos Zeman has called upon the West and Russia to end mutual sanctions.

"Cooperation (between the Czech Republic and Russia) has been developing in defiance of sanctions. But this does not mean that I have reconciled myself with sanctions. You know well enough that I have been their opponent for a long time. This concerns not only EU sanctions against Russia, but also Russia’s sanctions against the EU. At a certain point they should be brought to an end," Zeman told the media after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.

He believes that mutual termination of sanctions would benefit both parties. Zeman is firmly against attempts by some politicians to rewrite history.

"The way I see it, it’s ridiculous," Zeman said about claims by former Ukrainian prime minister, Arseny Yatsenyuk, who used to say the Soviet Union had allegedly attacked Germany and occupied Ukraine on the way.

"Those who do not remember their past are doomed to living through it again," Zeman said.

Ukraine settlement

Putin has said he had briefed his Czech counterpart on the Russian vision of a settlement in Ukraine.

"I informed the president about our vision of the prospects for a settlement in Ukraine," he told reporters at a news conference following the talks. 

Putin added that he also told Zeman about the results of his meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, "about our plans to fight terrorism in Syria and tomorrow’s trilateral meeting with the Iranian and Turkish presidents."

The Russian head of state thanked the Czech leader for the open dialogue. Putin stressed that his talks with the Czech president proceeded in a friendly and constructive atmosphere, with the parties discussing the entire array of issues related to bilateral ties and outlining plans for the future. The Russian leader noted that Tuesday’s meeting is the second one this year, which indicates high priority assigned to bilateral cooperation.

"Priority attention at the talks was paid to economic ties," Putin stressed. "This year, thanks to concerted efforts, we have been able to overcome the downturn in mutual trade that had been observed over the past few years. The bilateral trade turnover grew by 42.9% from January to September."

Putin noted that, during his visit to Russia, Zeman was accompanied by an influential delegation of Czech entrepreneurs who will take part in two business forums in Moscow and Yekaterinburg.

Russian-Czech cooperation

Russia and the Czech Republic will sign 13 economic cooperation agreements worth about $20 billion summarizing the results of a visit to Russia by a Czech delegation, Czech President Milos Zeman said after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.

"As for concrete agreements, fundamental agreements, ten of them will be signed in Moscow [during the visit of the delegation] and three more will be signed in Yekaterinburg (Urals)," Zeman said.

He stressed that the Czech delegation brings together 140 entrepreneurs, against 14 business people accompanying him during a visit to France. "Thus a conclusion can be drawn that Russia is ten times more important for us," the Czech leader said.

The Czech president also said that 6,000 students from Russia are studying in the Czech Republic at the moment. Zeman said that apart from seeking to develop economic cooperation with Russia, his country is interested in seeing growing numbers of Russian tourists.