Zeman Calls On EU To Drop ‘Anti-Russian’ Sanctions

zeman putin

Prague, Sept 12 (CTK) – The reasons why anti-Russian sanctions were introduced by the EU still persist, Czech senior elected officials, or the president, PM, lower house head and foreign and defence ministers, agreed at a meeting today and called for the Minsk agreements to be met by all sides involved.


The officials also agreed that it would be useful if the European Council thoroughly discussed the anti-Russian sanctions and assessed their “economic and political effectiveness in relation to the procedure of their prolongation.”


“The Czech Republic would naturally respect the result of the discussion,” the officials said in a statement.


The meeting was held at Prague Castle, convoked by President Milos Zeman and also attended by Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Chamber of Deputies chairman Radek Vondracek (both ANO), foreign minister Jan Hamacek (Social Democrats, CSSD) and defence minister Lubomir Metnar (for ANO).


The only senior elected official not to take part was Senate chairman Milan Stech (CSSD), who is on a working visit to Paris.


Zeman has been opposed to the EU’s anti-Russian sanctions for a long time. At a recent meeting of Czech ambassadors in Prague, he said he wants a possible prolongation of the sanctions to be discussed by the EU countries’ representatives at the European Council meeting.


Today’s statement follows up that demand of Zeman.


The opposition Civic Democrats (ODS) are convinced that there is no reason to give up the European sanctions against Moscow if Russia is occupying Crimea, ODS spokesman Petr Fiala said in reaction to the supreme officials’ statement on this issue.


The opposition TOP 09 shares this view and is against the lifting of the sanctions, its deputy group head Miroslav Kalousek said.


The Pirates say it is not possible to give in to Russia in the case of sanctions if Moscow is not willing to cooperate.


Fiala called the stance of the top officials on the anti-Russian sanctions reasonable.


“I am surprised that the president is opening this issue at all. Russia still occupies Crimea, so there is not a single reason to lift the sanctions,” Fiala wrote to CTK.


Last time, a prolongation of the sanctions by another six months was decided by the EU summit in Brussels in late June.


The sanctions aim against the banking, financial and energy sectors. For some Russian firms, they hamper their access to international finances. The export of certain oil extraction technologies to Russia is also banned.


The EU imposed the sanctions on Russia in reaction to its annexation of Crimea, an Ukrainian peninsula, in 2014 and its support for pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.


In March 2015, the EU made the lifting of the sanctions conditional on the implementation of the Minsk peace agreements.


The EU also took other measures in reaction to the Ukrainian crisis. A number of individuals and firms, which contribute to splitting Ukraine’s territorial integrity, have been banned from entering the EU.


Since the EU does not recognise the Russian annexation of Crimea, it has suspended cooperation with this region and its politicians.