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Revolt Against Sanctions on Russia at German-Russian Municipalities Conference

June 30, 2015 (EIRNS)—The German-Russian Municipal Partnerships Conference which was held June 28-30 at Karlsruhe, Germany, featured a broad rejection of EU sanctions against Russia among the 600 delegates from 100 German and Russian cities: Remarks against the sanctions and against anti-Russian rhetoric received overwhelming applause. There were also calls for passage of a final resolution at the event, which would state opposition to sanctions and support for intensified exchange and cooperation between Germany/Europe and Russia.

Among the speakers on the German side, Matthias Platzeck, chairman of the German-Russian Forum, stood out with the most pronounced statements against the sanctions. During the morning plenary session on Monday, Platzeck said that after one year, the sanctions have failed to have their intended political effect in Russia, where Putin’s popularity has kept increasing, but German exports to Russia are hit hard. What concerns him most, he added, is that not just trade but the entire network of bilateral German-Russian relations will be damaged, which is bad for Europe as a whole—a Europe already faced with numerous serious crises it has difficulty in handling: the financial crisis, Greek crisis, refugee crisis, decomposition of entire states in Mideast and North Africa. Platzeck said that in such times of crisis, there should be more communication with Russia on all levels, instead of sanctions including the suspension of the NATO-Russia Council.

During a press conference between panels, Platzeck responded to an EIR question on the BRICS, saying that indeed, the entire crisis diplomacy around Ukraine should be raised to a higher level, to involve direct talks between EU and Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) on the common cooperation area from Lisbon to Vladivostok, in which framework the BRICS comes up as important. New, non-traditional ways of thinking are required to solve the problems, Platzeck said. The BRICS, whose summit is less than 10 days from now, was mentioned by several Russian speakers, including a municipal official of Ufa, who spoke about the logistical preparations in that city to host the back-to-back BRICS and SCO summits.

Among Russian speakers, senior Duma member Alexander Romanovych was most outspoken against the present EU policy: if the sanctions are linked to the Crimean issue, Europe must know that Crimea is Russian and remains with Russia. Unless Europe changes its views on the matter, the sanctions will stay, but Russia will not give in. He also referred to the case of Greece, as exemplar. of the destructive attitude of EU policies—the crisis there was created by the EU, not the Greeks, Romanovych said.

Former Russian Culture Minister Mikhail Shvydkoy, who also spoke at the Monday plenary session, mentioned the missed chance of 1989, when the Wall came down and everybody hoped the doors would be open for a new world order; instead, we are faced with a situation now which nobody would have imagined 25 years ago—a new Cold War with all its strategic dangers.