Sputnik: How important is today's event in regards to relations between Russia and the EU? What is Austria's role?
Detlef Wimmer: The latest developments in Europe, as you know perhaps, haven't been that good. So it's even more important to remove the tension between the parties, and to take a supportive role. For example, even for a small European country like Austria, it's important to maintain balance.
Sputnik: European nations have varying opinions about relations with Moscow. What's your view on the matter, and what do people in your city say?
Detlef Wimmer: In my personal opinion, Russia is a very important part of Europe — not only geographically, but also culturally, historically, and economically. So, there should be very good cooperation. And, people in our city could be described as such: there's been a vote in the city parliament, and there was a resolution passed to the government that sanctions against Russian Federation should be abolished. So, our city stands, let's say, to a certain degree against the current position of the European Union, and it would be good if other cities, other countries, other regions would follow throughout Europe. Perhaps, it's only a small step, or only a couple of steps, which will lead to a bigger goal.
Sputnik: What are the steps that should be taken to de-escalate the current situation? Is it a matter of communication, a matter of dialogue — or, perhaps, something else?
Detlef Wimmer: On one hand, people involved in political systems can do their best to convince others to tell the truth about things that are happening, and, let's say — to prevent crises from getting worse — for example, this affair revolving around this former British spy residing in Britain, who is claimed to have been poisoned. When people dismiss diplomats from other countries — then other steps will follow. It goes on, and on, and on, and I think this negative circle must be broken and interrupted. Otherwise any sanction provokes a reaction, we have to stop this. This is also why we totally agree with Austria's federal government, which didn't expel any Russian diplomats.
Sputnik: Do you think that the federal government in Austria is aiming at improving relations with Russia?
Detlef Wimmer: I think that the federal government pursues a good goal — it's a good political direction. But I think it also takes some time — it's a small country in the big European Union, and there are only small steps that we can take, or the country can take. But I totally approve of and agree with this decision not to expel any Russian diplomats, because it would be a removal of the balance, and also a step against our neutrality. And I think that a politically neutral position together with economic cooperation, and exchange of students — the young people, working together for a peaceful and stable world — that would be our goal, and my personal goal.
The views of the speaker do not necessarily represent those of Sputnik.