Monday, March 7, 2016

Europe: Anti-Russian Sanctions Worthless | By: PYOTR ISKENDEROV

Europe: Anti-Russian Sanctions Worthless
PYOTR ISKENDEROV | 01.03.2016 | OPINION

Europe: Anti-Russian Sanctions Worthless

The voices in the EU calling for lifting the anti-Russian sanctions are getting increasingly louder. German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a meeting of the Christian Democratic parliamentary group on February 16 that she would «rather today than tomorrow lift» the sanctions imposed on Russia. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico put it bluntly saying the sanctions against Russia are «nonsense». «The sooner they are removed, the better», he added.
Europeans are reluctant to continue the sanctions war. The economic situation dictates the adoption of quite a different approach. Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban has recently visited Moscow to say he considers it to be a valuable partner. During the visit, he said the industry of Hungary will simply fail without strong economic ties with Russia – a very important and relevant remark. Suffice it to say, that Russia supplies about 80% of oil and 75% of natural gas consumed in Hungary.
Last December, Gazprom extended the contract on energy supplies with Hungarian partners till 2019.
The Paks Nuclear Power Plant, built with the help of the Soviet Union, produces more than 40 percent of the electrical power generated in the country. Russian company Rosatom is going to upgrade the facility.
Viktor Orban told Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 17 that European Union countries will not «automatically» extend sanctions over Ukraine.
He believed the sanctions will hit the agenda to become a subject of intense debates. Business benefits are a strong argument to gradually make Europeans more reasonable. Many of them know who will benefit in case the trade ties between the European Union and the Russian Federation are suspended. Jean-Pierre Thomas, an influential businessman and president of Thomas Vendome Investment, says the punitive measures make his country lose 0.5 percent of possible GDP growth annually. The anti-Russian sanctions were imposed as a result of US political initiative to make Europe bear the brunt. The European trade with Russia is roughly 10 times more than the size of US-Russia commerce. Europe, especially Germany, not the United States, is the one who suffers losses, Jean-Pierre Thomas notes.
According to the Munich-based Institute for Economic Research (IFO), one of Germany's largest economic think-tanks, the Business Climate Index fell to 105.7 points this month from 107.3 points in January (the forecast was 106, 7 points) marking it the third consecutive decrease. The situation is worse than pessimistic forecasts predicted. According to German experts, the prospects for the largest European economy are getting increasingly gloomy due to the continuing crisis in the trade and economic relationship between Germany and Russia. Consumer Price Index in Germany decreased to 15 months’ low in February. The economic damage is only a part of the problem caused by sanctions. The things get worse as a result of social and political crisis in the European Union. It was hit by the waves of migrants at the same time it entered the conflict with Russia. The European Union happened to be helpless as it was unable to prevent the refugee flows coming from the Middle East. European politicians resorted to lies. The refugee crisis has become the most difficult problem faced by the European Union since its creation, says Peter Szijjarto, State Secretary of Hungary for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Economic Relations.
According to his forecasts, the crisis will last for several years with more refugees coming to Europe in 2016 that in the previous year. Europe needs to protect its borders and make asylum seekers comply with the rules of a member-state they enter. Then it should concentrate on the real causes of the problem, including the war in Syria. The Hungarian politician believes that Russia, the country under sanctions, can help. According to Peter Szijjarto, the resolution of the Syrian crisis without cooperation between Russia and the United States is impossible.
The sentiments among voters are another important factor compelling European elites to seek rapprochement with Russia getting around Washington and Brussels to reflect their voters’ mood. The polls conducted in the majority of EU member-states show the patriotic forces are growing stronger. They refuse the dictatorship of the European Commission and firmly support national state interests, including cooperation with Russia. The nearest test will take place on March 5 – the date of parliamentary election in Slovakia. European bureaucracy will be shocked in case Our Slovakia (LSNS) Party led by Marian Kotleba achieves a success.
The party stands for opposing NATO and EU memberships and «dictatorship of Brussels».
According to Slovak independent media outlets, the party headed by Kotleba can get more that 12 percent of the votes to become the second largest after SMER («Direction») led by Prime Minister Fico. Official opinion researchers try not to include the Our Slovakia party into questionnaires. They forget that, contrary to all forecasts, in November 2013 Kotleba won the post of the Governor of the Banská Bystrica region by receiving 55% of the votes. Obviously, the European Union is going through changes

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