Ukraine Boycott

Merkel, Hollande Call for Extending Financial Sanctions Against Russia

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The economic sanctions imposed by the European Union against Russia as a result of the annexation of Crimea are due to expire in January 2017. Not every E.U. country is in favor of these sanctions, but Brussels needs Berlin and Paris to speak a common language on this particular issue.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • The E.U. has imposed economic sanctions against Russia as retaliatory measures against its involvement in the Ukraine crises since the summer of 2014 and has extended them on several occasions since.
    • The current round of sanctions is due to expire in January 2017 and E.U. leaders will discuss whether to extend them at a European Council summit on Thursday in Brussels.
    • Both Germany and France will hold elections next year. While Angela Merkel will stand for a fourth term in fall, Mr. Hollande will not run for a second term next spring.
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    Audio

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French President Hollande and German Chancellor Merkel make a statement to the media at the Chancellery in Berlin
Angela Merkel called the situation in Aleppo “disastrous” and “heartbreaking.” Source: Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande on Tuesday called for extending E.U. financial sanctions against Russia because of its ongoing aggression in Ukraine.

The leaders of Europe’s two largest economies spoke at a press conference in Berlin ahead of Thursday’s European Council summit in Brussels.

Since implementing the so-called Minsk ceasefire agreement in the Ukraine, the smoldering border conflict is making little progress, the two said. “It will be necessary to extend the sanctions against Russia once again,” Ms. Merkel told journalists at the Chancellery.

“As long as there is no effort, no progress, there are always the same obstacles, I am in favor of extending the sanctions, just like the chancellor,” said Mr. Hollande, standing next to Ms. Merkel.

The French president said the European Union “must continue to enforce the Minsk agreement.” He emphatically called for sanctions, which are supposed to expire at the end of this year, to be extended until the ceasefire deal is observed, “even though this formula shouldn’t become permanent.”

Handelsblatt reported last week that, according to diplomatic and European sources, the European Union will extend its economic sanctions against Russia for six months after the European Council summit on December 15.

These sanctions, which the E.U. first imposed against Moscow in the summer of 2014 after the Russian annexation of Crimea and in the face of mounting evidence of Russian involvement in a civil war unfolding in eastern Ukraine, include restricted access to international funding and a limitation of Russian-European defense and energy cooperation.

“Without the Russians, no Syrian regime.”

François Hollande, French President

Brussels has already extended these sanctions three times since, and the current round of sanctions, which was agreed upon in June, is due to expire in January.

The French president, who announced at the start of the month that he will not stand for reelection next year, traveled to the German capital on Tuesday so that both leaders could reach a common stance ahead of Thursday’s summit.

Although a significant part of their agenda on Tuesday was dedicated to a French-German partnership to support and foster digitalization in Europe, urgent international issues came to the fore, including Syria.

Mr. Hollande made further serious accusations against Moscow for the situation in Syria, saying Russia is responsible if there is no humanitarian aid for the civilians “held hostage” in the city of Aleppo. “Without the Russians, no Syrian regime,” is the reality in the country, the French head of state said, adding that there was a humanitarian emergency to be addressed as soon as possible.

Rebels who had held the eastern part of Aleppo for four years are on the brink of defeat. On Tuesday, the United Nations said there were reports of summary executions of civilians in the city, including women and children.

Ms. Merkel called the situation in Aleppo “disastrous” and “heartbreaking.”

In addition, Ms. Merkel said that due to the “fragile situation” in the Mediterranean region, Berlin and Paris intended to push for migration partnerships with African countries, modeled on the E.U.-Turkey agreement, to be finalized faster.

She also called for an accelerated implementation of the faltering resettlement mechanism for refugees who have entered Greece from Turkey.

 

Jean-Michel Hauteville is an editor at Handelsblatt Global in Berlin. To contact the author: hauteville@handelsblatt.com.

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