MOSCOW – The Prime Minister of Belgium expressed on Wednesday his support for sanctions on Russia but insisted he wanted to reduce tensions between Moscow and the European Union.
Speaking to students at a conference in the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Charles Michel said the two main points of disagreement between Russia and the EU were the bloc’s western borders and the conflict in Ukraine, particularly Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula, which he insisted had to be resolved through dialogue.
“We need to be able to talk about our common interests, but also our differences. It is not about preaching but about seeing the solutions we can bring together,” he said.
The Belgian head of government said he hoped tensions between Moscow and Brussels could be reduced, as well as any strained relations between Russia and NATO.
Michel, who on Tuesday met with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev and is to later on Wednesday meet with President Vladimir Putin, said he had traveled to Moscow to show that he was ready and willing to talk.
He said he wanted to understand Russia’s point of view and show his European colleagues that sanctions, though he supported them, were not an end goal in themselves and dialogue was needed in order to advance.