What is There Behind Germany’s Calls for Easing Sanctions on Russia

© AP Photo / Gero BreloerPeople pass a giant German National flag on the Reichstag, which houses the German parliament Bundestag, as they cross a bridge between two office buildings on Thursday, April 2, 2009 in Berlin
People pass a giant German National flag on the Reichstag, which houses the German parliament Bundestag, as they cross a bridge between two office buildings on Thursday, April 2, 2009 in Berlin - Sputnik International
The calls for a “step-by-step” easing of sanctions on Russia have recently been heard louder in Germany. The German media has learnt what lies behind such suggestions.

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The discussions on easing the anti-Russian sanctions have been going on in Germany for a long time. Apart from the left and ultra-right opposition parties which have been against the punitive measures from the very beginning, similar calls are now being heard from one of the members of the ruling coalition, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), notes the Deutsche Welle website.

Some of the first to speak on the topic were Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the chairman of the SPD, Minister of Economic Affairs Siegmar Gabriel.

Both politicians noted that “sanctions are not an end in themselves” and that the global issues could not be solved without Russia.

However both linked the easing of the sanctions to the implementation of the Minsk-2 accords.

Der Spiegel magazine also recently wrote that Germany “has begun working on the gradual easing of sanctions.”

“Isolation is not at all helpful,” it quoted Siegmar Gabriel as saying, adding that “isolation is not a tenable policy and that only continued dialogue is helpful.”

The magazine also added that, “behind the scenes, Chancellor Merkel’s government has long since developed concrete plans for a step-by-step easing of the sanctions against Russia and that the process could begin as early as this year.”

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However, Berlin is only prepared to make concessions to Moscow on the condition that progress is made on the Minsk process, it noted.

The mood of average Germans is also changing towards lifting the sanctions.

Earlier in May, a poll conducted by the Internationale Politik (IP) magazine revealed that slightly over 70 percent of Germans oppose keeping the entire bulk of EU sanctions on Russia in place.

The poll showed that 35 percent of those questioned said the sanctions should be entirely scrapped, while 36 percent called for limited sanctions against Russia. Only 18 percent said the EU should keep the sanctions pressure on Russia.

Der Spiegel also notes that discussion between Russian and German politicians is “taking place at all levels.”

“Contacts that were considered unthinkable until recently are now being rebuilt.”

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It cites as an example a visit in early April of “a group of German parliamentarians from Merkel's conservatives, Gabriel's SPD and the Left Party” to Moscow to meet with Sergei Naryshkin as part of a conference held by the German-Russian Forum.

Naryshkin is chairman of the State Duma, Russia's parliament, and is on the EU sanctions list.

There has also been a series of meetings with Russian parliamentarians in Germany in recent weeks.

However the actual results will only be evident shortly, when the 29 countries of the EU will once again vote on the extension of the measures.

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