EU ambassadors and deputies of the Russian State Duma will discuss the lifting of sanctions

By | April 21, 2015

The European Union is ready to restore dialogue with Russia

EU Ambassadors at a closed meeting with the head of the State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs Alexei Pushkov offered to discuss the lifting of sanctions the EU to Russian politicians and businessmen. How to tell the “News” in the State Duma, the meeting will be held at the initiative of the European diplomats, that is a good signal for the resumption of dialogue and cooperation.

– We decided to meet European colleagues, as we believe that, especially after the Minsk Agreement, such a dialogue may be useful because the tension in the relations with the EU today is preserved. As I understand it, the EU is also guided by this approach and is interested in contacts not only with the Russian executive branch, but also with parliamentarians – told “Izvestia” head of the international affairs committee of the State Duma Alexei Pushkov.

According to him, in March after the European Union were invited to the State Duma to discuss relations between Russia and the EU, but at that time they refused to participate. The event was attended only Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Cyprus George Kasoulides. Now, at the initiative of the head of the EU mission in Russia Vygaudas Usackas was invited to consider the possibility of a closed meeting between the deputies and the ambassadors of the EU countries, most of which have already  confirmed their participation.

Gun does not exclude the possibility that one of the issues to be discussed will be the prospect of mutual cancellation of the sanctions measures, which, in his opinion, seriously poisoned the climate of relations between Russia and the EU.

– For example, in France, these sanctions unhappy business. After Minsk Agreement was signed, the political atmosphere in some European capitals began to improve. This does not apply in London, Warsaw, but in some countries it has become a little better, I think it is a meeting with the ambassadors reflects some shift in our relations with the EU – said the MP.

Propagation colleague, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs Leonid Kalashnikov at the meeting intends to raise the question of the abolition of mutual blacklisting those countries that have been introduced during the exacerbation of the conflict in Ukraine.

– The decision to lift the sanctions take the appropriate EU structures, so no sensation at this meeting will not happen, but after one way or another affect these decisions. Therefore, we will raise this issue. If you want to talk to us and listen to another point of view, the sanctions are not the best way to do this – said “Izvestiya” Kalashnikov, also noted that this meeting will affect the improvement of relations between Russia and the EU.

EU-Russia relations began to deteriorate rapidly since March last year, immediately after the referendum in the Crimea, whose residents have expressed their desire to join Russia. First, the EU imposed sanctions on 21 Russian and Crimean politicians who supported the referendum, then canceled the summit “Russia EU”, and forbade his embassy in Russia to give residents of the Crimea all types of visas. Already in April, the European Parliament adopted a resolution advisory nature, in which he called to abandon the construction of the gas pipeline “South Stream”, and in June adopted a new sanctions list, which included Russian politicians, deputies and businessmen. During 2014 the EU sanctions were growing, as they touched the Russian Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank, Vnesheconombank, Russian Agricultural Bank, “Rosneft”, “Transneft”, “Gazprom oil” and several other companies.

In June, the EU will again discuss sanctions against Russia, which, according to experts, can be considered under several scenarios: sanctions will be mitigated or, in the worst case for Russia, extended. EU to tighten their unlikely, since many countries of the European Union, have suffered from their actions significant economic losses. As already reported “Izvestia” , strongly oppose sanctions policy made ​​by Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Italy.

Note that the last question of sanctions against the Russian delegation in June was invited to move to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Monitoring Committee which previously had intended to discuss the issue at the spring session, which began on Monday in Strasbourg. As the head of the PACE Anne Brasseur, the cause was consistent position of Russia, which has not complied with the recommendations of the Assembly, but at the same time a politician has admitted, that the solution of the situation with Ukrainian aviatrix Hope Savchenko, accused of the murder of Russian journalist, “will be found.”

As explained “Izvestia” a source close to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the figure of Hope Savchenko not be subject to political bargaining, as it is accused of a serious crime. However, the Minsk Agreement provides for an amnesty for prisoners, under which Savchenko can get.

– The appearance of sanity in respect of the Russian Federation, I personally see and feel. The fact that the leadership of the PACE and the EU leadership starts on the extension of sanctions to hold a conservative position, not by chance, for many reasons – said Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, State Duma deputy Vasily Likhachev. According to him, first of all concerned about the economic situation of the EU, which has a very strong European business, which is why in the political establishment of the EU there has been a split.

The second factor in the change of relations with Russia, according to Likhachev, a reassessment of what is happening in Ukraine, where the OSCE observers noted a different point of view from Kiev. The third factor that can influence the situation, the EU parliamentarian says the desire albeit incrementally, but to improve relations with Russia.

– Agreement on partnership and cooperation between Russia and the EU by 1994 has not been canceled. Without a doubt there is a need to restore relations, – said the MP.

Real Deal Comment: 

The thrust of the piece is that Russia, in particular the parliament, wishes to reopen channels of communication that had been closed. That makes sense, Russia has set great store by having lines of communication open with all parties to the greatest degree possible.

In addition as we have seen over the past few weeks the Russians have started to discuss the variable application of sanctions with several parties, again, that makes sense.

Remember also that while the Duma is an important body right now, at this stressful time, much, if not most policy is being decided at a level above parliament and the Duma is on the whole, OK with this.

So, given that the article does not say that ending sanctions is an overarching goal of opening channels of communication why is ending sanctions, on the whole, not a good thing for Russia right now?

Firstly the economic side: sanctions have forced a substantial change in the manner in which the economic structure of Russia is configured. As Putin discussed during the question and answer session last week, import substitution is now taking place, particularly in the field of agriculture and food production. The roots are new and although changes are made right now the fresh shoots can use the protection of import restrictions. Indeed, farmers made just this case during the broadcast. In the field of manufacture sanctions are leading overseas manufacturers to set up manufacture within Russia to serve the Russian market, the economic and social benefits of this are obvious. Again though, it makes no sense to change the current regime until ground has been broken on new factories.

In terms of finance, again we have seen restructuring. The ruble, as a result of sanctions and other attacks has been forced into a decline from which it is now recovering. As a result of these external actions the ruble has for the first time in many years become decoupled from the price of oil. Again as a result of sanctions businesses are financing themselves differently, capital flight has been reduced, alternative systems to western ones for handling transactions have been put into place.

All these things are new and, given that humans are human, if the stimuli that enabled these positive changes were to be removed then there’d be incentive to slide back into the old ways of exchanging commodities for finished goods and progress that will have effects over generations will be undone.

Also, as a result of the visible effects of attack upon Russia, the country has united behind the current government and state in a way that would not have otherwise happened. As a result the population understand quite well that there will be short terms setbacks but that the effect is to reduce the impact of foreign meddling in Russian affairs. The structural changes being wrought in Russia could probably not have been implemented were it not for the unifying effect of external threat.

Think of the whole mess of sanctions as being akin to a horse running handicapped by weights. The weights slow the horse down. When the weights are removed the horse runs even faster.

The markets have already priced in the ‘weight’ of sanctions. Putin has made it clear that he expects sanctions to continue throughout at least 2015 and what is being seen in the economy right now is the economy growing stronger under the weight of sanctions.

In addition, and this should not be neglected, the issue of sanctions is acting as a divisive force within Europe and between Europe and the US. There are good reasons why having a somewhat divided EU and particularly EU/US would be seen as being a good thing within the Kremlin.

What all this means is that in public lip service will be given to a desire for a general removal of sanctions but at a policy level no great effort will be made to seek their removal. If the US and EU decide to remove them then the Russian government is not going to say ‘no, keep the sanctions going’


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