Merkel urges EU to go ahead with Russia sanctions
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Wednesday for the European Union to move quickly on new sanctions against Russia, saying they could always be lifted if a Ukraine ceasefire holds.
Merkel told parliament that the 28-country bloc needed to bring pressure to bear against Moscow now to foster an end to fighting in eastern Ukraine.
She said a lingering "lack of clarity" about respect for the terms of the ceasefire meant "that we are pushing for these sanctions to be published now" so they can come into force.
She said that if the guns fall silent in eastern Ukraine "then Germany will be the first to call for the sanctions to be lifted".
"Sanctions are only imposed when they are unavoidable," she added.
After agreeing a new sanctions package against Russia on Monday, EU nations were to hold another round of talks on Wednesday about when to implement them amid discord as to what extent they should be linked to a Ukraine truce.
The new measures aim to hit Moscow hard after it allegedly intervened in support of pro-Russian rebels, enabling them to reverse recent Kiev government advances in eastern Ukraine.
EU president Herman Van Rompuy said Monday the package would be published in the EU's Official Journal "in the next few days", paving the way to their implementation.
But diplomatic sources said that approach, rather than a decision to implement the sanctions immediately as had been expected last week, reflected qualms among some member states about upping the ante so soon after the EU adopted tough sanctions in July targeting entire economic sectors.
They are expected to limit access to financial markets by Russian oil companies such as Rosneft and Transneft plus the petroleum unit of gas giant Gazprom.
Germany had long dragged its feet on backing sanctions against Moscow with an eye to its lucrative trade ties and long-standing diplomatic and cultural relations with Russia.
Merkel insisted, as she has repeatedly this year, that there could only be a "diplomatic solution" to the crisis but said the road would be "long and rocky".
And she reiterated that Germany would not "accept a violation of the territorial integrity" of Ukraine.
© 2014 AFP