Austria: Foreign Minister Kurz wants to relax anti-Russian sanctions

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January 6, 2017 – Fort Russ News –

– Der Spiegel, translated from German by Tom Winter –

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz

The Austrian government wants to achieve a relaxation of the EU sanctions that were imposed on Russia for the Ukraine crisis. The Austrian government will press for this in the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe), says its Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz in an interview with Der Speigel.

In the new year, Germany’s neighboring state assumes the OSCE Chairmanship. The Christian Socialist politician said: “We need to build confidence in Europe again and so far as sanctions are concerned, move away from a system of punishment to a system of incentive.”

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So far, the agreement in the EU stipulated that the Russia sanctions would not be lifted until Russia fully met the conditions of the Minsk Peace Plan.

The German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had already undertaken a similar advance in the summer. “If we can make significant progress, there is nothing to prevent the sanctions being gradually slackened,” Steinmeier said at the time – much to the annoyance of the Berlin Chancellery.

Steinmeier’s Austrian colleague Kurz will now use his country’s OSCE chairmanship to put the issue of Russia sanctions on the agenda again: “We should gradually relax the sanctions for any positive development on the ground.” 

Since the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis there was a return to the block thinking of the cold war, he said. Therefore there needs to be “a trend reversal” in relation to Russia.

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