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Austrian president calls for restoration of equal relations with Russia

It is necessary to restore equal relations with Russia, Austrian President Heinz Fischer said during his official visit to the Bulgarian capital on Thursday.

"If we talk about true relations with Russia, it is necessary to restore equal relations as soon as possible. Sanctions were necessary at a certain period of time but it would be much better if problems could be solved without sanctions. I believe that such solutions should be found. Naturally, all international laws should be observed," Fischer said.

"Austria and Bulgaria are countries that want to develop reasonable and good relations with Russia. At the moment, we have to deal with a very hard situation of reciprocal sanctions. We hope that trust is going to be restored and that Russia will again become a desired partner for the whole of Europe; that cooperation, partnership and peaceful talks will resume in full measure," Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev said in turn.

Both presidents also spoke in favor of construction of the South Stream gas pipeline.

Walter Koren, the head of the External Economic Relations Department of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, said on Thursday the EU should not mix politics with economic relations with Russia. "Political problems call for political solutions. This is a message from the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber. Politics should remain politics. It should not interfere in economy," Koren told a meeting of the Russian-Austrian cultural and tourism forum.

Sanctions against Russia

Russian officials and companies came under the first batch of Western sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, after Russia incorporated Crimea in mid-March after a coup in Ukraine in February.

The West announced new sectoral penalties against Russia in late July over Moscow's position on Ukrainian events, in particular, what the West claimed was Russia's alleged involvement in hostilities in Ukraine's embattled east.

In response, Russia imposed on August 6 a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the European Union, the United States and Norway.

Moscow has repeatedly dismissed Western allegations that it could in any way be involved in hostilities in the eastern of Ukraine.

[Source: Itar Tass, Sofia, 30Oct14]

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