Ger­man min­is­ter wants EU united front for de-es­ca­la­tion with Rus­sia

Tehran Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Ger­man Europe Min­is­ter Michael Roth called for the Euro­pean Union to adopt a united front against Rus­sia with the aim of re­duc­ing ten­sions, warn­ing that “anti-Rus­sian re­flexes” were as dan­ger­ous as naiveté about Rus­sia’s “na­tion­al­ist” course.

Roth’s in­ter­ven­tion, in an ar­ti­cle for Die Welt news­pa­per, came amid signs that under con­ser­va­tive Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel and So­cial Demo­crat (SPD) For­eign Min­is­ter Heiko Maas, Ger­many’s po­si­tion to­wards Rus­sia is hard­en­ing, es­pe­cially since a poi­son at­tack in Britain, widely blamed on Rus­sia.

Roth, in re­marks that seemed de­signed to re­flect the more pro-Rus­sian views of the SPD’s mem­bers, said Europe’s sanc­tions against Rus­sia should be main­tained, but with the aim of bring­ing Rus­sia to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble.

“Sanc­tions aren’t a goal in them­selves,” he wrote. “They should en­cour­age peo­ple back to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble to work on rea­son­able so­lu­tions ... Anti-Rus­sian re­flexes are just as dan­ger­ous as naively rel­a­tiviz­ing the na­tion­al­ist-tinged poli­cies of the Rus­sian lead­er­ship.”

EU cool to U.S. plan for new Rus­sia sanc­tions

Mean­while, EU for­eign min­is­ters looked un­likely to join the United States on Mon­day in im­pos­ing new eco­nomic sanc­tions on Rus­sia or Syria.

West­ern lead­ers sought to em­pha­sis diplo­macy, with an EU for­eign min­is­ters meet­ing in Lux­em­bourg.

“It is very im­por­tant to stress [the strikes are] not an at­tempt to change the tide of the war in Syria or to have a regime change,” Bri­tish For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son told re­porters on ar­rival at the meet­ing.

“I’m afraid the Syr­ian war will go on in its hor­ri­ble, mis­er­able way. But it was the world say­ing that we’ve had enough of the use of chem­i­cal weapons,” he said.

In Lux­em­bourg, min­is­ters were set to re­lease a state­ment to keep open the op­tion of new travel bans and as­set freezes on Syr­i­ans the West ac­cuses of links to the April 7 poi­son gas at­tacks on a rebel en­clave out­side Da­m­as­cus. But diplo­mats fore­saw no de­ci­sions on Mon­day, es­pe­cially against Rus­sians.

“We have to keep push­ing to get a cease­fire and hu­man­i­tar­ian aid through the [United Na­tions] Se­cu­rity Coun­cil and even­tu­ally a peace process,” Dutch For­eign Min­is­ter Stef Blok told re­porters.

“The only so­lu­tion is a peace process through the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil,” said Blok, who met his Rus­sian coun­ter­part Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Fri­day.

The United States is due to an­nounce new eco­nomic sanc­tions on Rus­sia aimed at com­pa­nies it al­leges were deal­ing with equip­ment re­lated to chem­i­cal weapons, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, Nikki Ha­ley.

How­ever, EU diplo­mats cau­tioned that un­til Euro­pean gov­ern­ments had more idea of what the United States was plan­ning, it was not pos­si­ble to quickly fol­low suit. In the past, EU mea­sures have some­times come months af­ter Wash­ing­ton’s.

Rus­sia is Europe’s big­gest en­ergy sup­plier and, while the EU has im­posed sig­nif­i­cant sanc­tions on Moscow’s fi­nan­cial, en­ergy and de­fense sec­tors over the cri­sis in Ukraine, close ties be­tween Rus­sia and some EU mem­bers com­pli­cate dis­cus­sions about new puni­tive mea­sures.

The Euro­pean Union has al­ready im­posed a range of eco­nomic sanc­tions on Syr­ian gov­ern­ment, cut­ting off most diplo­matic and eco­nomic links, but to no avail.

“There will be a so­lu­tion in­volv­ing ev­ery­one who has in­flu­ence on the re­gion,” Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Heiko Maas said in Lux­em­bourg. “No­body can imag­ine some­one who uses chem­i­cal weapons against his own peo­ple to be part of this so­lu­tion.”

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