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    The Belgian flag flying at half-mast is pictured at the Hofplein in Rotterdam, on March 23, 2016.

    Belgian Business Community Sees Futility of Anti-Russia Sanctions

    © AFP 2018 / Lex van Lieshout
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    Russian Ambassador to Belgium said that Belgian businesspeople understand that the sanctions imposed on Russia harm the bilateral ties and that they make no practical sense.

    BRUSSELS (Sputnik) Belgian businesspeople understand that the sanctions imposed on Russia harm the bilateral ties and that they make no practical sense, Russian Ambassador to Belgium Alexander Tokovinin told Sputnik Thursday.

    "Belgian entrepreneurs understand very well that the sanctions make no sense and harm both sides. In particular, agricultural producers who have exported significant part of their products to Russia have suffered from the restrictions… I would like to hope that our partners in Belgium… will have enough wisdom to focus on positive prospects of our relations' development," Tokovinin said.

    The ambassador added that during his tenure he had already noticed that Belgian companies were interested in cooperation with Moscow and saw that Russia had a large and promising market.

    At the same time he added that anti-Moscow sanctions hampered bilateral economic and political ties but the countries had adapted to the current state of affairs and took steps to develop contacts.

    The normalization of Russian-Western ties is hampered by the West's "aggressive minority" seeking to profit from a confrontational approach to Russia, Alexander Tokovinin said.

    "As soon as there is some hope that the confrontational approach to Russia will start to wane and our relations with the European Union and the West will start to return back to normal on the basis of equality and mutual respect, at that point forces wanting to earn capital by confronting Russia try to unleash yet another anti-Russian campaign," Tokovinin said.

    The ambassador regretted that the West lacks a strategic vision for its relation with Russia, adding that standoffs are caused by a minority hostile to Russia.

    "The aggressive minority, which seeks to earn political points by opposing Russia and increase its weight within euro-atlantic structure, often succeeds in imposing its opinion on others," Tokovinin stressed.

    Since 2014, relations between Russia and the European Union, including Belgium, deteriorated amid the crisis in Ukraine. Brussels, Washington and their allies introduced several rounds of sanctions against Russia over its alleged involvement in the Ukrainian conflict, which Moscow has repeatedly denied.

    Cultural relations between Moscow and Brussels are very promising and continue to strengthen, Russian Ambassador to Belgium said.

    "I think that cultural ties between our countries are very promising. During my tenure, [famous Russian violinist] Yuri Bashmet has visited Belgium and other cultural events have also taken place here," Tokovinin said.

    Tokovinin added that there were many people in Belgium interested in Russian cultural heritage.

    According to the diplomat, the Russian side is currently creating a cultural program to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Russian Emperor Peter the Great's visit to Belgian cities, such as Antwerp and Liege.

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