Czech president says EU’s Russia sanctions to be short-term

Czech President Milos Zeman believes EU will lift sanctions on Russia this year

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Czech President Milos Zeman said that the EU-enforced economic sanctions on Russia may be lifted this summer during his visit to Russia for the Victory celebrations on Sunday.

The EU placed the sanctions on Russia after its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine last year.

President Zeman explained that other than some local conflicts, the civil war in Ukraine ıs drawing to an end.

If the Minsk peace agreements are mostly fulfilled, there would not be a reason to continue the sanctions, Zeman said in a meeting with his Russian counterpart President Vladimir Putin.

“Western sanctions might be fully lifted by end end of this year. Brussels will be deciding on them in the summer.

"The other NATO member states must unanimously agree with its entry to this elite club and this condition is not fulfilled. It is fully possible, the economies complement one another. Russia needs modern technologies, the EU needs energy sources. We will wait and see.”

Putin mentioned that he fulfilled the requirements of the Minsk agreements which was signed in February, adding he hoped for a decentralised Ukraine in which each region would have its independence.

"There are still politicians in Europe who are able to express their opinions directly and defend their stances," Putin told Zeman.

Zeman also criticised the EU for the sanctions on Russia and asked Putin for help in the Salekhard case.

The Czech government claims that their five-billion-crown for the construction of a steam-gas power plant in Salekhard in Russia were unpaid.

The Czech president’s visit to Moscow, however, created problems in the Czech government.

Members of the right-wing party TOP 09 criticised the visit, saying it had created a negative profile for the Czech Republic in international relations. The right-wing party also slammed Zeman for visiting Russia while it was “threatening Ukraine’s sovereignty.”

The opposition party KSCM, on the other hand, supported Zeman saying Russia was a significant partner, whether the right-wing party liked it or not.

Western nations punished Russia for the annexation of Crimea last year by enforcing crippling economic sanctions, which have put the country into recession and led to the devaluation of its rouble currency.

The sanctions, however, may be lifted if Russia sticks to its side of the Minsk 2 agreement.

The Minsk 2 agreement, which was signed between the Ukrainian government and rebel leaders in the Belarusian capital on Feb. 15, secured a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine in order to allow vital humanitarian aid to reach thousands of civilians who have been cut off from social subsidies due to the conflict.

Under the Minsk 2 agreement, rebels are required to withdraw all heavy weapons from the battlefront.

TRTWorld and agencies