German president advises Europe to keep more distance from Russia




Berlin - In the face of numerous arguments with Russia, German President Frank Walter Steinmeier has advised the countries of Europe to be more sober and distanced in their relationship with Moscow.



 
The hopes for a comprehensive, increasingly integrated partnership with Russia have not been met, and currently on both sides there prevailed "a deep disappointment," Steinmeier said on Sunday in a speech at the Kulturanta talks in Finland.
Kulturanta is the summer residence of the Finnish president, located about 20 kilometres east of Turku. The two-day conference there is devoted to foreign and security policy and is attended by about 100 participants.
Steinmeier said of Europe's relationship with Russia:
"A more objective relationship, one that is less overburdened with expectations of change, could be a good thing.
"However, a more sober, more distant relationship also entails risks.
"And the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine continues to weigh heavily on relations, as does the annexation of Crimea."
Steinmeier talked of what he considers a "new conceptual approach" with regard to Russia: "I do not believe there can be anything like 'business as usual' with the future Russia."
Accordingly, Europe should not just look on in silence as free speech is increasingly restricted in Russia.
The recent arrest and subsequent release of journalist Ivan Golunov showed once again that it is necessary and important to be vigilant and to show practical solidarity.
"But in the interests of a more functional partnership, we should be more aware that our own capacity to change Russia is limited," the German president said.

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Sunday, June 16th 2019
(dpa)
           


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