MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Teltschik, who also chaired the Munich Conference on Security Policy, said at the Potsdam Meetings international conference organized by the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund and the German-Russian Forum:
"These days, this initiative is still very relevant, from my point of you because it is a part of the Minsk agreement. Therefore, we must have a strong interest to push first Minsk agreements. In the agreement Merkel and Holland have promised to promote all EU free trade area and, I think, it is a real opportunity. Russia is a member of WTO and therefore there is no longer a reason not to go forward with all European free trade initiative."
Despite of the support from Germany, no further steps were taken toward implementation of the proposal, even after Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2012. In 2014, Russia’s relations with the European Union deteriorated significantly as the crisis in Ukraine escalated, economic operation was restricted and sanctions imposed.
Teltschik believes that despite tensed relations between the European Union and Russia, such free trade area can become a reality as it has substantial economic and political benefits given that political conditions are fulfilled.
"We all can benefit from this initiative. Therefore, we must push Poroshenko and the Ukrainian government from both sides not just from Germany’s and France’s sides but by Russia as well to fulfill the Minsk agreements and help with building peace in Ukraine," he said.
In 2014, Russia’s relations with the West deteriorated significantly as the crisis in Ukraine escalated. The United States and its allies, accusing Moscow of fueling tensions in Ukraine, introduced a series of sanctions against Russia as a punitive measure.
In February 2015, the conflicting sides in eastern Ukraine reached a ceasefire deal after talks brokered by the leaders of Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine — the so-called Normandy Format — in the Belarusian capital of Minsk.
On Tuesday, after the Potsdam Meetings, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia and the West needed to improve their relations, and Moscow was ready to make a step in this direction.