Anti-Russia Sanctions to Be Lifted if Progress on Ukraine Reached: Hollande
11:01 05.01.2015(updated 16:37 05.01.2015)
French President Francois Hollande hopes the upcoming meeting between leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine in Astana on January 15 will bring further progress at the negotiations on the situation in Ukraine. He hopes Russia will be relieved of Western sanctions in case sides achieve progress on the Ukrainian settlement.
PARIS, January 5 (Sputnik) – France's President Francois Hollande said Monday he expects further progress at the negotiations on the situation in Ukraine that will take place in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana, on January 15.
'I will go to Astana on January 15 under the sole condition – that we manage to make further progress… And I think we will,' Hollande said.
In December 2014, Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko said that the meeting would be held in the so-called Normandy format, and leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine would meet in Astana on January 15.
The Normandy format for the meetings was established in early June when Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Ukrainian leader met in Normandy to discuss the Ukrainian crisis.
Denis Pushilin, envoy of the Donetsk People's Republic at the Minsk peace talks, stated on Sunday that the meeting in Astana could become 'a catalyst for the Minsk talks.'
Talks on Ukrainian reconciliation have been conducted in four formats – Normandy, Minsk, Geneva (Ukraine, Russia, the United States, the European Union) and Weimar (Ukraine, Russia, Germany, France, Poland). The Minsk format, including representatives from Ukraine, the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, Russia and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, has proven to be the most effective.
The French president also said that Western sanctions against Russia should be lifted if progress is made in establishing peace in Ukraine.
"If Russia is in crisis, it is not necessarily good for Europe… I think, the sanctions should stop now. In case there is progress [in the Ukrainian settlement], they should be lifted," Hollande said in a speech broadcast live by French Inter radio.
Relations between Russia and the West have deteriorated following Crimea's reunification with Russia in March 2014. The United States and its allies have introduced several rounds of sanctions over Russia's alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis. Moscow has repeatedly denied these claims. The restrictive financial, trade and travel measures target Russia's defense, banking and energy sectors.
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