Brussels, March 14 (MTI) – The starting point of the European Union’s relations with Russia should be pragmatic dialogue built on common sense and mutual respect, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in Brussels on Monday.
Speaking at a press conference on the sidelines of a meeting of EU foreign ministers, Szijjártó said that alongside dialogue with Russia, Europe’s interests also lay in the emergence of a peaceful Ukraine and holding out for the possibility of a comprehensive EU-Russia trade deal.
The minister added that overcoming global challenges would be easier through cooperation with Russia.
He said the EU should recognise that its economic sanctions against Russia also hurt the economies of Ukraine and certain EU member states, including Hungary, which he said has suffered 4.5 billion US dollars in losses since the sanctions were implemented. He said that in order to maintain European unity, any and all sanctions against Russia must be preceded by political debate at EU level.
Szijjártó called for “an end to the double standard” that he said determined whether a member state could hold talks with Russia based on the economic might of that country.
On the topic of the Minsk Agreement, Szijjártó said both pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine and the government’s forces had failed to fully adhere to the deal.
Concerning Iran, he said the nuclear deal signed last year was a testament to the power of multilateral diplomacy. Europe’s interest lies in stability in the Middle East, to which the role of Tehran is also crucial, he added.