‘Bring Rus­sia to ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble’

Ger­man min wants EU united front with aim to re­duce ten­sions

Arab Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

BER­LIN, April 16, (RTRS): 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 naivete 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 rel­a­tivis­ing the na­tion­al­ist-tinged poli­cies of the Rus­sian lead­er­ship.”


Mean­while, Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Heiko Maas on Sun­day crit­i­cised Rus­sia for a se­ries of ac­tiv­i­ties be­yond its borders, blam­ing it for a cy­ber at­tack on his own min­istry, and said Moscow must change its ways.

Maas listed a se­ries of what he called prob­lem­atic ac­tions that also in­cluded the lack of progress in im­ple­ment­ing a cease­fire in eastern Ukraine, a poi­son gas at­tack in Britain, sup­port for the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment, and ef­forts to in­flu­ence West­ern elec­tions.

“We had an at­tack on the For­eign Min­istry where we have to as­sume that it stemmed from Rus­sia,” he told the Ger­man broad­caster ZDF. “We can’t just wish all that away ... And I think it’s not only rea­son­able but nec­es­sary to point out that we do not view those as con­struc­tive con­tri­bu­tions.”

cations” af­ter a Greek flag was hoisted on a dis­puted, un­in­hab­ited islet in the Aegean Sea off the Turk­ish coast.

Prime Min­is­ter Bi­nali Yildirim told re­porters that the Turk­ish coast guards had re­moved the flag from the is­land off the coast of the Aegean re­sort of Didim.

Yildirim said the in­ci­dent was sim­i­lar

Ger­man gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials in Fe­bru­ary dis­closed what they called an “iso­lated” cy­ber at­tack on the gov­ern­ment com­puter net­work that was first dis­cov­ered in De­cem­ber.


The head of Ger­many’s do­mes­tic in­tel­li­gence agency last week said there was “a high like­li­hood” that Moscow was be­hind the at­tack.

Maas, a So­cial Demo­crat who has adopted a tougher stance on Rus­sia than his pre­de­ces­sors from the same party, told the other Ger­man pub­lic broad­caster, ARD, on Sun­day that Moscow had been an in­creas­ingly “dif­fi­cult part­ner” but Ber­lin was com­mit­ted to main­tain­ing di­a­logue, par­tic­u­larly on the cri­sis in Syria.

“It is time, I think, to point out that we ex­pect con­struc­tive con­tri­bu­tions from the Rus­sian side, in­clud­ing on the Syr­ian con­flict. And also that they don’t al­ways sim­ply pro­tect (Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar) al-As­sad,” he said.

Rus­sia has de­nied any ef­forts to in­flu­ence West­ern elec­tions, and scoffed at sug­ges­tions it was be­hind the cy­ber at­tack in Ger­many. It also de­nied in­volve­ment in a poi­son gas at­tack on a for­mer Rus­sian dou­ble agent and his daugh­ter in Britain.

West­ern air strikes aimed at de­stroy­ing Syria’s chem­i­cal weapons fa­cil­i­ties have ex­ac­er­bated ten­sions be­tween Moscow and the West, al­ready at a new post-Cold War high af­ter the ex­pul­sion of more than 130 Rus­sian diplo­mats in re­sponse to the nerve agent at­tack on ex-spy Sergei Skri­pal.

Syria de­nied us­ing chem­i­cal weapons against its civil­ian pop­u­la­tion.

Ger­man Pres­i­dent Frank-Wal­ter Stein­meier, an­other So­cial Demo­crat, who has served as for­eign min­is­ter, on Sun­day warned against de­mon­is­ing Rus­sia and said Ger­many had a par­tic­u­lar role to play in main­tain­ing di­a­logue with Moscow, given its his­tory.

Stein­meier told the Bild am Son­ntag news­pa­per he was con­cerned about a

to one in 1996 when the two NATO al­lies went to war over un­in­hab­ited islets known as Imia in Greek and Kar­dak in Turk­ish which both Tur­key and Greece claim.

“Our ad­vice to Greece would be to stay away from provo­ca­tions and ag­i­ta­tions,” Yildirim said adding that Tur­key was “de­ter­mined to give the nec­es­sary re­sponse” to “gal­lop­ing alien­ation be­tween Rus­sia and the West” and urged Ger­man politi­cians to avoid por­tray­ing Rus­sia and its peo­ple as an en­emy.

Maas on Satur­day called for a new in­ter­na­tional ef­fort to end the war in Syria, and said Ger­many would use its re­la­tion­ship with Moscow to en­sure Rus­sia played a “con­struc­tive” role.

“Whether we like it or not, the Syr­ian con­flict can­not be re­solved with­out Rus­sia,” he said on Sun­day.

Ger­many, which re­lies on Rus­sia for about a third of the gas it uses, has long walked a care­ful line with Moscow -- push­ing for con­tin­ued sanc­tions over Ukraine and eastern Ukraine while also main­tain­ing di­a­logue and trade re­la­tions.



New US sanc­tions against Moscow will be hard for Rus­sia but do more dam­age to the United States and Europe, RIA news agency cited a se­nior Rus­sian law­maker as say­ing on Sun­day.

US am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions Nikki Ha­ley said ear­lier on Sun­day that Wash­ing­ton was pre­par­ing new sanc­tions against Rus­sia over its sup­port for Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Basharal As­sad.

Evgeny Sere­bren­nikov, deputy head of the de­fence com­mit­tee of Rus­sia’s up­per house of par­lia­ment, said Moscow was ready for the new penal­ties.

“They are hard for us, but will do more dam­age to the USA and Europe,” RIA quoted Sere­bren­nikov as say­ing.

Rus­sia will not de­lay adopt­ing leg­is­la­tion in re­sponse to new US sanc­tions, Deputy For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Ryabkov said on Mon­day, RIA news agency re­ported.

Se­nior mem­bers of the lower house of par­lia­ment have said they are con­sid­er­ing leg­is­la­tion to give the Krem­lin pow­ers to ban or re­strict a list of US im­ports. Ryabkov said Moscow was dis­cussing what he called Wash­ing­ton’s abuse of the dol­lar’s sta­tus as the global re­serve cur­rency.

such acts.

De­spite two decades of ef­forts to im­prove re­la­tions, Greece and Tur­key have seen a spike in ten­sions in re­cent weeks over dis­puted Aegean bound­aries as well as over oil-and-gas drilling rights off the di­vided is­land of Cyprus. (AP)

Ar­me­ni­ans protest ex-leader’s move:

Sev­eral thou­sand pro­test­ers staged ral­lies on Mon­day in the Ar­me­nian cap­i­tal against for­mer pres­i­dent Serzh Sark­isian as he moves to main­tain a choke­hold on power as prime min­is­ter.

De­mon­stra­tors marched through the cen­tre of the cap­i­tal Yere­van and blocked streets in op­po­si­tion to a change of gov­ern­ment that will see Sark­isian main­tain huge in­flu­ence under a new par­lia­men­tary sys­tem of gov­ern­ment.

Some pro­test­ers chanted “Ar­me­nia with­out Serzh” and “Serzh is a liar.”

“Our goal right now is to pre­vent Serzh Sark­isian from be­com­ing the coun­try’s leader for a third time with­out vi­o­lence and the use of force,” said op­po­si­tion leader Nikol Pashinian who led the pro­test­ers.

Sark­isian, 63, ended his sec­ond and fi­nal pres­i­den­tial term last week.

On Mon­day, the rul­ing Repub­li­can Party and the gov­ern­ment-friendly Dash­nak­t­su­tyun Party for­mally nom­i­nated Sark­isian as can­di­date for the post of prime min­is­ter de­spite the protests. The pro-Moscow politi­cian is ex­pected to be elected by par­lia­ment on Tues­day. The pro­test­ers took to the streets af­ter op­po­si­tion leader Pashinian called on Ar­me­ni­ans to stage ral­lies to pre­vent Sark­isian’s po­lit­i­cal tran­si­tion. (AFP)

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