Problems between EU and Russia ‘can be solved’, Putin says

Vladimir Putin
AFP/Scanpix

Russia‘s starting point is the need to build an equal and fair dialogue of partners with the European Union on a wide range of issues, – from simplifying visa processes to building energy alliances,” Putin said in an article in the Greek Kathimerini daily on Thursday.

Putin argued that the EU would not be a global player without his country’s help.

Putin, who starts a two-day visit to Greece on Friday, also called for an energy alliance with Europe and the relaxation of visa rules for Russians travelling to the EU.

“A rightful position of the Old Continent in the new international realities can only be secured by combining capacities of all European countries, including Russia,” Putin said.

“We believe our relations with the EU do not face any problems that we cannot solve. To get back to a multifaceted partnership, the deficient approach of one-sided relationships should be abandoned. There should be true respect for each other’s opinions and interests.”

EU-Russia relations are at an all-time low over Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and its role in perpetuating separatist conflict in the neighbouring country.

The EU’s sanctions on Russia’s banking, defence and energy sectors expire in July. Extending them will require a unanimous vote, and EU leaders are expected to discuss the issue next month.

Putin is due to meet Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Athens on Friday.

Putin was last in Europe in June, when he visited Italy and held talks with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Pope Francis.

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