Juncker Meets with Putin to Unlock EU-Russia Relations

The Leader of the European Commission, in Moscow for the First Time Since the Beginning of the Ukraine Crisis

June 22nd, 2016

Juncker's presence in St. Petersburg rose surprise when it was announced last month, as since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis and the exchange of sanctions, the European Union leaders have been avoiding traveling to Russia for two years. During the opening speech at the International Economic Forum, Juncker justified this trip arguing that “the EU should maintain a dialogue with Russia despite the sanctions”.

Russia-EU relations might be at a historic low, but that hasn’t stopped European Commission’s President Jean-Claude Juncker from trying to start finding a diplomatic solution to a conflict that seemed deadlocked since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine and the Russian’s annexation of Crimea.

 "There are people who like the idea that I'm here, and others who do not like that idea. Personally, I love it”, declared Juncker in a forum full of Russian politicians and businessmen. "When our relationships are strained we have to maintain dialogue, even with the sanctions in force we are obliged to continue talking. And I'm here because I want to help build a bridge."

However, Juncker has also made clear that the EU position hasn’t changed for the moment and that the sanctions won’t be lifted until Russia fully complies with the Minsk agreements, signed to end the war in the Ukrainian Donetsk and Luhansk provinces. But his meeting with Putin sends a message of hope, as it shows that the conflict can and will be only resolved through diplomacy and mutual cooperation and both parties have committed themselves to explore any way out of this diplomatic impasse.

French ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy, who has been publicly advocating against sanctions, also met with Putin on Wednesday. He proposed the head of the Kremlin to take the first step and suspend the embargo on imports of agricultural products from the EU. "Raise the sanctions and we, who are your friends, will do everything we can to help," he promised.


Cultural Diplomacy News
Nicolás Pan-Montojo Sisniega, CD News