French lawmakers urge government not to renew Russia sanctions

28th April 2016, Comments 0 comments

The French parliament on Thursday adopted a resolution urging the government not to back the extension of sanctions against Russia over the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Thierry Mariani, a lawmaker with the conservative Republicans party, said that two years after the conflict began between Kiev and Moscow-backed separatists, the EU sanctions had proved "totally ineffective."

"The Minsk (peace) accords are deadlocked, the ceasefire is merrily flouted by both sides" and promised reforms had yet to see the light, said Mariani, who sponsored the resolution.

He added that the measures were "dangerous for our economy", giving as examples the cancellation of the sale of two Mistral warships to Russia over the crisis and the blow to French farmers from the food import ban implemented by Moscow in retaliation for Western sanctions.

The Russian embargo has led the prices of some goods such as pork and milk to plunge in France.

Dozens of farmers have been pushed to the edge of bankruptcy and have staged massive protests around France in recent months.

The non-binding text was adopted by 55 votes to 44, mostly backed by the right, far-right and far-left, with nays from the Socialist ruling party and ecologists.

Some lawmakers highlighted the importance of forming an "alliance" with Russia to fight the Islamic State, a common enemy, and find a solution to the Syrian conflict.

French secretary of state for European Affairs Harlem Desir said that while Russia was a strategic partner, cooperation must hinge on "the respect of international law."

"Yes, we want sanctions lifted in connection with the crisis in the (rebel-controlled eastern Ukrainian) Donbass region. Yes, if the Minsk accords are respected they will be lifted. This is the position of the European Union and it would be a mistake to leave this framework," he added.

The European Union extended sanctions against nearly 150 people in Russia and Ukraine last month until September when they will next be reviewed.

Ukraine and its Western allies believe Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014 and fomented the insurgency in the country's east in order to keep a grip over its former Soviet neighbour and prevent it from seeking membership of the EU and the NATO military alliance.

The two-year insurgency has claimed the lives of around 9,200 people.

The chief monitor of the ceasefire, the OSCE, said Wednesday that ceasefire violations had reached their highest level in months in recent weeks.

© 2016 AFP

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