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Austria to lift anti-Russian sanctions

Austria's new conservative government have vowed to lift anti-Russia sanctions that have been in place since the conflict in Ukraine started in 2014, according to the incoming cabinet’s program for 2017-2022.

Published: December 18, 2017, 7:21 am

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    Vienna

    Lifting the sanctions imposed on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine will help to ease tensions between the West and Russia, Russian news agency TASS reported.

    “Austria’s neutrality is a fundamental factor which should be taken into consideration in all international agreements. Involvement in global politics is included in national interests of a neutral state. Austria, as a historical link, should be an active venue for dialogue between the West and East and will shape the policy of d·tente between the West and Russia,” the program Together. For Our Austria stated.

    “Our aim is positive cooperation in our continent. Austria will actively stand up to ease tensions, which emerged particularly over the conflict in Ukraine, and related to it [the conflict] sanctions in the European spirit and will undertake efforts to solve the conflict in Ukraine and around it,” it said.

    Many European states have expressed their frustration over the economic fall-out of US-imposed sanctions on Russia which the European Union members have been forced to implement against their own interests.

    This signals a broader shift as most European Union members now seek to normalise relations with Russia in defiance of US desires.

    Freedom Party (FPO) leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, said that ending sanctions would benefit the whole of Europe. Strache said he would work to rescind anti-Russian sanctions as part of new Austrian government policy.

    “Yes, we would like these sanctions to be lifted,” he said, at a joint press conference with the future Chancellor, and leader of the conservative Austrian People’s Party (OVP), Sebastian Kurz.

    He said that the FPO would “seek a solution in the interests of Europe” that would allow “Europe and Russia to come together once again”.

    Strache said the new Austrian government allies would seek other European political forces to secure majority support for the lifting of sanctions.

    The FPO has repeatedly expressed concern over the EU sanctions policy towards Russia. In 2015, Strache drew attention to losses suffered by the Austrian economy amounting to about €1 billion in just a year.

    “It is not Russia that has been an aggressor over the recent decades,” he noted at that time, as cited by Die Presse. It was not Russia that expanded its “sphere of influence” to the EU borders, he added, suggesting that NATO was in fact the problem.

    In December 2016, the FPO signed a memorandum of understanding with the ruling Russian party, United Russia.

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