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European leaders change tough stand on Ukraine, Syria

16th Oct 2015
European leaders change tough stand on Ukraine, Syria
By Zaiki Shaikh and Andrew Jay Rosenbaum



LONDON (AA) : European leaders are changing their tough stand on the Ukraine conflict, softening their tone with Moscow.

Many analysts now predict that EU leaders will compromise with Russia on Syria in an effort to end the European migration crisis, largely caused by the conflict in that country.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Oct. 8 has questioned the continued tough stance taken towards Moscow by European leaders, amidst threats faced in Syria and the crisis in Ukraine, Deutsche Welle reported.

U.K. Foreign Minister Phillip Hammond said on Oct. 12 that the West should be “flexible about Assad,” thus moving closer to Russia’s position.  Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sept. 24 that Assad must be “part of solution in Syria.”

“There is a need to make efforts toward a practical relationship with Russia,” Juncker said, although he still qualified Russia’s actions in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine as “unacceptable.”

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has called for a reset of relations with Russia, speaking to Time magazine on Oct. 8.

Slovakia and Greece have made it clear that they see pursuing a continuing policy of sanctions against Russia as counter- productive, Polish analyst, Witold Jurasz said in a note published on the Polish website Fronda on Oct. 4.

– End the sanctions, European  leaders say

According to Antonio Fallico, president of the Russian branch of Italy’s largest bank, Intesa Sanpaolo, Europe’s political elite and its business elite want to see a U-turn on Russia.

“There is now a consensus among leaders that sanctions should be lifted,” Fallico told the press on Oct. 13.

“At top decision-making levels, there is agreement on the need to search for a mechanism of resolving disputes with Russia,”

In case the West and Russia actually align their approach against Daesh, it will be difficult for Europe to keep tough sanctions against Russia in place, Jurasz said.

Jurasz also pointed out that Germany and France are re-assessing the possibilities for future interaction with Russia. Under the circumstances, Central and East European states also need to work towards a compromise with both Russia and the West.

– Neutral status for Ukraine and Belarus

According to Jurasz, Poland, the Czech Republic and the Baltic states, in the run-up to the November 2013 Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit held in Vilnius, Lithuania, expressed eagerness to admit Ukraine into their fold.

But now Central and East European countries propose a solution in which both sides — the West and Russia — must give up their expansionist agendas, and allow both Ukraine and Belarus take neutral status.  Such an arrangement might not only help improve the poor relations between the EU and Moscow, but would also contribute to easing tensions between NATO and Russia, he explained.

All of this means that Russia’s bold intervention in Syria is already achieving results.

Among possible results that Russian leaders may seek to achieve is to secure Russian naval presence in Syrian ports, in the long run, and to make major European countries accept a neutral status for Ukraine and Belarus.

Jurasz predicts that the West is likely to wind up compromising with Russia. A solution in Syria means that the fraught issue of migration to Europe will ease. Western powers may agree that allowing Russia to achieve its aims in Syria is worth the price.

Author: Ekip, Andrew Jay Rosenbaum
[Photo: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker talks to the media at a press conference after the EU summit in Brussels, Belgium on early Friday, Oct. 16, 2015. Photographer: Dursun Aydemir/AA]

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