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    Presidential candidate Norbert Hofer (R) and head of the Austrian Freedom party Heinz-Christian Strache (L) react at the party headquarter in Vienna, Austria, April 24, 2016

    Austrian Presidential Candidate 'Committed' to Lifting Sanctions Against Moscow

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    The upcoming presidential election in Austria could possibly bring a change of leadership which would be willing to pursue a more friendly policy toward Russia. In an exclusive interview with Sputnik Germany, Austrian presidential candidate Norbert Hofer commented on his political aspirations and his readiness to lift sanctions against Moscow.

    According to forecasts, Hofer has good chances to become the head of the Austrian state. If he wins the upcoming election, he would seek better relations with Russia and gradually lift sanctions against Moscow, the politician told Sputnik Germany.

    "I will show my strong commitment to the withdrawal of sanctions against Russia because I am firmly convinced that sanctions hinder communication. They are hurting the economy and agriculture, they are destroying jobs. The European Union was founded with the idea that states should cooperate economically and that this close cooperation contributes to peace. And therefore, the sanctions are a wrong way to secure peace," the politician said.

    According to the politician, Austria and Russia have close contacts which will help the two countries to enhance their cooperation.

    "I am looking forward to visiting Russia. I would like to make this as quickly as possible in order to conduct negotiations […] If Austria cooperates with Russia, we could, among other things, implement joint economic projects, for example, in the energy sector," the politician stressed.

    Two rounds of presidential elections have already been held in Austria this year. In the second round, Norbert Hofer received 49.7% of the votes, while his opponent, Alexander Van der Bellen, was supported by 50.3% of the voters.

    Later, the Austrian Constitutional Court announced the election results invalid due to numerous violations and ordered a new round of the voting. The next election is scheduled for December 4.

    Since 2014, relations between Russia and Western countries deteriorated amid the crisis in Ukraine. Washington and Brussels have introduced several rounds of anti-Russia sanctions since Crimea's reunification with Russia in 2014 and over Moscow's alleged involvement in the Ukrainian conflict. Russia has repeatedly refuted the allegations, warning that the Western sanctions are counterproductive and undermine global stability.

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    anti-Russian sanctions, presidential election, Norbert Hofer, Russia, Austria
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