WASHINGTON, September 30 (RIA Novosti), Lyudmila Chernova - There is still a possibility that the EU sanctions against Russia might be lifted earlier than the US ones, because they are more substantive in their nature, the Director General of Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), Thanos Dokos told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.
"It is still possible that Europe might lift them [sanctions] before the US, if there is there a permanent ceasefire, and an agreement between the two sides in Ukraine about a political solution to the internal problems," said Dokos, adding that while the US economic sanctions against Russia are "more symbolic," the European sanctions are "more substantive."
Earlier today the European Union ambassadors have decided to keep sanctions against Russia in place because of the situation in Ukraine. The decision was announced after the EU Committee of Permanent Representatives reviewed the implementation of the ceasefire and a wider peace plan for the region agreed in Minsk on September 5.
Dokos said that Europe is already feeling the effect of the sanctions. "Greece has been affected in specific sectors, mainly fruit producers," he said.
Dokos noted, however, that the damage both in Greece and elsewhere in Europe, while not insignificant, is neither deep nor yet permanent.
"If sanctions are lifted, it should not take too much time for a return to business as usual," he underlined. "The only change might be that producers and companies may try to diversify their export markets to minimize damage if similar problems occur in the future."
Dokos stressed that there are obvious differences on a range of topics and diverging short and medium-term interests between the West and Russia. Given, however, the Europe's dependence on Russian energy and the rather converging long term strategic interests of the EU and Russia, he believes that there are many good reasons to avoid further escalation of the crisis.
"Should Moscow demonstrate the necessary good will, and cooler heads prevail in the West, the Ukrainian issue could be resolved with a federal system that would provide reasonable autonomy to the Russian-speaking regions," Dokos concluded.
The European Union, alongside the United States, has introduced several rounds of sanctions against Russia over its alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, an allegation Moscow has repeatedly denied. The latest batch of sanctions targeted Russian energy and defense companies, as well as certain individuals.