Foreign minister confident sanctions against Russia will continue (2)
According to Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE), European Union members continue to be critical of Russia, and countries’ leaders will extend the sanctions against it at their summit in Brussels on Thursday.
“Extending the sanctions is a subject to be a dealt with by the European Council already on Thursday. And I don’t really predict any complex debates will take place there,” Mikser said at a press conference in Tallinn on Tuesday. “We have to wait until the summit, but it looks like the decision will be quick and made by consensus,” the minister added.
At the moment the attitude vis-a-vis Russia was critical, and not only because of what Russia was doing in Ukraine, but also because of what it was doing in Syria, Mikser said.
“In the future continuous work is definitely required to explain why the sanctions were imposed, the fulfilment of the criteria they are linked to. And a lifting of the sanctions against Russia or a review of these sanctions can indeed happen only once Russia has fulfilled the obligations it has assumed. This is the firm position of Estonia,” Mikser said.
“We know that there is pressure and a lobby seeking the opposite. It is our job to work with all the possibilities we have to achieve that the sanctions would continue until Russia again embarks on the path of observing international law and international norms. At the moment, unfortunately, it has to be said that there are no encouraging signs of Russia being intent on doing it,” Mikser added.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday they favored extending EU sanctions against Russia. Merkel said that given grave shortcomings in the Ukraine peace process, which has been marred by regular ceasefire violations, “It will be necessary to extend sanctions against Russia once more.”
Hollande, speaking at a joint press conference with Merkel in Berlin, agreed there had been insufficient progress in implementing the Minsk peace accords.
“Since there hasn’t been an effort made, no progress, and the same blockages remain, I, like the chancellor, am in favor of extending sanctions,” Hollande said.
Imposed in July 2014 after the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over rebel-controlled East Ukraine, the EU sanctions target the Russian energy, defense, and finance sectors.
Currently in force until Jan. 31 next year, they are the subject of debate among EU member states, with some arguing they should be lifted, as Moscow had imposed retaliatory measures that hurt European farmers.
Mikser: Solution will be found concerning the EU-Ukraine association agreement
Mikser also said he believed that EU leaders would manage to agree on solutions how to enact the association agreement with Ukraine in such a way that it would satisfy the Netherlands, whose voters rejected the agreement in a referendum earlier this year.
“The solution should definitely be one that enables Ukraine to move forward with the association agreement,” Mikser said.
He pointed out that Ukraine’s decision to turn towards Europe had been what triggered the Maidan protests, and the end of then-president Yanukovich’s pro-Russia government. “It would be extremely unpleasant and ironic if this now became entangled in a domestic political or administrative stalemate in one member state of the European Union,” Mikser said.