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    Austrian Politician on EU-Russia Sanctions: 'The Negative Circle Must Be Broken'

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    Russia's Crimea is hosting the 2018 Yalta Economic Forum. The event is being held just a few weeks after several European nations decided to expel Russian diplomats and to follow Washington’s lead in toughening sanctions against Moscow. Austria wasn’t among the «hardliners». Sputnik sat down with Detlef Wimmer – the deputy mayor of Austria’s Linz.

    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.

    READ MORE: Germany's AfD Party Wants to Put an End to Sanctions Against Russia — Deputy

    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.

    READ MORE: German Leaders to Seek Waivers From US Sanctions on Russia — Reports

    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.

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