"We are trying to stay within the framework of the correct economic relations between the two countries in the framework of the sanctions and the embargo, which was then imposed by the Russian side. And this is not Belgium’s position, but of all countries of the European Union," Reynders told reporters.
He reiterated that sanctions were a temporary solution linked to the implementation of the Minsk agreements on Ukrainian settlement.
"The current sanctions are not an aim themselves," Reynders stressed.
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Dialogue With Russia
The minister noted the importance of a comprehensive dialogue between the European Union and Russia.
"With regard to relations between the EU and Russia, we strongly wish to establish a permanent dialogue between the Russian Federation and the European Union. I have already made moves for this within the EU. I think that it is necessary to establish a dialogue to consider all areas," Reynders said after the meeting.
Reynders went on by saying that he had discussed the issues of the joint fight against terrorism with Lavrov and noted the necessity of developing EU-Russia cooperation in this sphere.
"Contacts have already been made on possible data exchanges [as part of the anti-terror fight]. It is also necessary to develop the possibility of a multilateral approach," the minister stated.
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He stressed the importance to maintain cooperation between the bloc and Russia within the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
"But we need to find a way to maintain cooperation within the Council of Europe. And also in the Court of Human Rights… From our point of view, we should try to follow the path of compromise," Reynders said.
As Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders explained that the economic exchanges between the two countries had intensified over the last year, adding that other relations, in particular in the cultural sphere, merited attention and were worth being developed.
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"We need to look at how we can develop exchanges of students, between research centers and universities. There has already been some progress in this direction, but I would like us, our diplomats to work out a roadmap for developing relations in these areas," Reynders said, adding that all the aspects of bilateral relations should be taken into account for the next two years.
The relations between Russia, US and EU have been deteriorating since 2014 due to the crisis in Ukraine and Crimea's reunification with Russia following a referendum. The Western states, including the EU, responded by imposing several rounds of anti-Russia sanctions. Russia has repeatedly refuted all allegations of interference in Ukraine's affairs, warning that the Western sanctions are counterproductive and undermine global stability.