Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov this week held talks with the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Josep Borrell. Speaking at a press conference after the February 5 talks, Lavrov said Moscow and Brussels continued their political dialogue.
|EU High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security Josep Borrell and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Photo: TASS|
Russia is still under a series of sanctions from Brussels and Washington following the 2014 annexation of Crimea and the Alexei Navalny case.
But the European media began to pay special attention to this EU diplomat’s visit to Moscow.
French media noted that Mr. Borrell’s visit to Moscow had carried many messages, including Russia’s arrest of opposition politician Alexei Navalny. Mr. Borrell also wants to meet with Russian civil society to reaffirm Brussels’s support and mention some issues that cannot be exchanged via online meeting.
As for the Moscow government, Mr. Borrell did not send further sanctions as desired by some diplomats in the EU. The visit to Russia is an opportunity for “a candid exchange of the current state of bilateral relations” because “the diplomatic mission is to convey the message, to try to find a basis for negotiation”.
The “negotiation” and dialogue with the Moscow government are also the main goals that some important members of the EU, such as France, want to aim for.
On February 4, French President Emmanuel Macron stressed the need to continue dialogue with Russia despite the tensions between the two sides over Russia’s imprisonment of opposition figure Alexei Navalny.
President Macron has long fostered relations with Russia under President Vladimir Putin and continued to commit to this strategy in an exchange with the Atlantic Council.
He emphasized supporting dialogue because Russia is “part of Europe” and that there cannot be peace and stability in Europe without the possibility of negotiating with Russia.
Meanwhile, on January 27, President Putin said the country was ready to improve relations with the EU in the near future. Putin stressed that Russia and the EU have historic similarities and need to work together on “an active agenda.”
Although the latest event that has raised tensions with Russia is the arrest and imprisonment of Russian opposition activist Navalny, Europe cannot change anything about the Navalny case anymore. He was jailed in connection with a lawsuit dating back to 2014.
French media said that Europe was helpless to punish Russia because of the heavy bilateral damage, especially the Nord Stream-2 case, now with the Sputnik V vaccine and the shortage of vaccines in Europe. Russia has changed its position.
At a press conference on Feb. 6, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the EU at this stage “cannot be considered a reliable partner for Russia, but Moscow hopes that Brussels will eventually pay attention to your important interests “.
Commenting on possible Western sanctions against Alexey Navalny, Lavrov admitted that Moscow was accustomed to unilateral sanctions, without a legitimate basis from the EU.
“So we organize our life out of the premise that the EU is not a reliable partner, at least at this stage,” he stressed.
According to him, the principle of solidarity among EU members led to their unified view of the Navalny case. “However, I am sure that most politicians in Europe realize the absurdity of this approach” – the Minister noted.
Lavrov pointed out Russia’s readiness once the European Union has shown equal goodwill: “I hope that the imminent strategic review will eventually pay attention to the important interests of European Union in nearest neighborhood. I hope that today’s talks will help us achieve a more constructive trajectory. We are ready for that. “
Once again, in spite of disagreements on the way of the joint bloc in its relations with Russia, Brussels is still looking towards new healing efforts.