The French government is eager to hold discussions on lifting sanctions against Russia, French Government Spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told BFM TV this week.
President Emmanuel Macron is due to visit Russia next week, Griveaux said and “everything may be discussed, this is the principle of diplomacy”. He suggested that talks on cancelling the anti-Russian sanctions amid the upcoming visit of French may be on the cards.
“Paris is holding negotiations with everyone. We adhere to the principle of multilateralism,” he said.
The Financial Times in London reported that the French president will pay a visit to Russia on May 24-25 to take part in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, one of the key economic discussion platforms in the country.
France was the first Western country where both chambers of the parliament – the National Assembly and the Senate – called for scrapping the harsh economic sanctions against Russia in 2016.
Chairman of the German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations Wolfgang Buechele meanwhile welcomed the upcoming meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Russian President in Sochi as “an opportunity to bring the two countries closer together”.
Buechele told TASS on Wednesday that the meeting with President Putin “will come at an important moment,” adding that “given the highly difficult global situation, there is a chance to bring Germany and Russia closer together in light of mutual political and economic interests, which particularly refer to the maintaining of the Iran nuclear deal, the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and the criticism of the new US sanctions on Russia and their impact on German companies”.
“The number of [high level] visits shows that the new German government places much importance on dialogue with Russia,” he said.
“We hope that Russia will appreciate Germany’s efforts and the meeting in Sochi will give a new impetus to the search of a solution to the Ukrainian conflict and the implementation of the Minsk Agreements,” Buechele noted, adding that ending the conflict “is crucial for putting an end to the harmful spiral of sanctions”.
German Vice-President Wolfgang Kubicki also commented on the current relations between Germany and Russia, saying that Berlin needs to open new channels of dialogue with Moscow “to bring Russia back into the G8”.
He said the decision needed to be taken with other European partners, but that Germany should show initiative. “So, I believe that with the easing of economic sanctions, we should take a first step towards Russia, because this issue can be decided by Germany alone,” the politician told the Augsburger Allgemeine.
“One thing is certain: it is only with and not against Russia,” he added.