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Czech president rejects anti-Russian sanctions at CE assembly

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Strasbourg, France, Oct 10 (CTK correspondent) – The anti-Russian sanctions are not effective and the Russian annexation of Crimea is something that cannot be changed, Czech President Milos Zeman told a meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on Tuesday.

Zeman said the sanctions against Russia are “a lose-lose strategy,” same as Brexit.

He indicated that the question is not whether sanctions are justified but whether they are efficient. He said the sanctions that the United States had imposed on Cuba were an example of this. The U.S. sanctions did not work against the regime of the Cuban leader Fidel Castro, he added.

Zeman quoted former German President Joachim Gauck as saying that an effort to make Crimea part of Ukraine again would lead to a European war. The annexation was “a fait accompli,” he added.

A Russian-Ukrainian dialogue could lead to compensation for Ukraine, which might receive money or gas, Zeman said.

The goal is to “avoid European war and compensate Ukraine,” he said.

Zeman said Russian culture cannot be separated from European culture and the PACE should not try to divide the political structure of Europe that extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the Ural Mountains.

He supported the CE endeavour to achieve friendship and not hostility among European nations and said this effort should include Russia.

The anti-Russian sanctions should be replaced by a dialogue between citizens according to Zeman. “I recommend people-to-people communication in many levels instead”, he said in his ten-minute speech.

Before addressing the PACE, Zeman had a brief meeting with PACE’s Acting President Roger Gale and CE Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland.

In reaction to the annexation of Crimea, the PACE deprived Russian representatives of their voting rights in the CE and of participation in the operation of some CE bodies.

Still before journalists, Zeman and Jagland started talking about the situation where Russia refuses to pay its contribution of about 22 million euros to the CE this year, unless the present situation is adequately solved.

Zeman said he can see no reason why a country should pay fees to an organisation in whose activities it does not participate.

Zeman is known for his long-term support for Russia.

The Czech Republic is currently holding the presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the CE.

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