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EU not to consider lifting sanctions on Russia, but dialogue to continue

Staff Writer |
The European Union will not consider lifting its sanctions on Russia until the implementation of Minsk agreements, however, the EU's dialogue with Russia must be maintained, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday.

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"Ukraine's territorial integrity has not been restored and this remains to be a key topic. We will not consider lifting sanctions on Russia until the Minsk agreements are implemented," Merkel told a joint press conference with Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite.

Speaking about Germany-Russia bilateral relations, the Chancellor said that negotiations are possible with Russia. In her words, Germany must continue talking to the sides of the conflict, adding that recent events in Syria have exacerbated the conflict.

According to Merkel, opinions with Russia differ on many issues, but coincide on the Iran nuclear agreement.

Regarding the migration issue, Merkel noted that the European Union must care not only about its external border in the Mediterranean but about the external land border on the East Europe as well.

For her part, Grybauskaite told journalists that Lithuania and Germany had reached the most successful stage in the history of bilateral relations.

"We trust Germany and the Chancellor as European interests will never be betrayed. Germany will always represent interests of all peaceful countries, of the EU and Lithuania," Lithuania's head of state said.

According to Grybauskaite, Germany demonstrates special attention to Lithuania's defense, security and rapidly growing economic relations. She highlighted that Europe must remain a strong global player.

"We have full responsibility and potential to do that. It only depends on the unity of the member states whether geopolitical tensions, rewriting of international trade rules and challenges to multinational diplomacy will become a series of crises or an opportunity for Europe to step up its global role," said Grybauskaite.

During her visit in Vilnius, Merkel met with Grybauskaite and the prime ministers of the Baltic States. At the start of a new EU political season, leaders focused on the Union's security, the EU budget, the challenges of international trade, migration and Brexit.

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