GUE/NGL MEPs urged dialogue and solidarity rather than discord and sanctions during a debate on the EU's relations with Russia in the European Parliament this morning.

Helmut Scholz criticised the Landsbergis report's lack of strategic vision and the fact that it doesn't chart out an exit strategy from the current standoff. “It should have set out what we need to do to improve relations with Russia. We need dialogue and cooperation rather than a never-ending spiral of violence; we need to move towards confidence-building rather than mutual distrust and power relations; we must create empathy.”

For Miloslav Ransdorf, the US is pressurizing the EU into taking sanctions “which are stupid, make no sense and are counter-productive.” Meanwhile US trade, which was worth 3 billion euros compared to the EU's 120 billion euros, has grown by 6%, while the EU's has stagnated. “We must stop playing the role of the fall guy for the United States.”

Sofia Sakorafa said that this resolution was just another in a chain of resolutions that form EU foreign policy and does not take into account the disastrous results of such policies on people in the area. She asked: “If we slide back into cold war tactics and into fear, uncertainty and insecurity, is this really a positive vision that we can offer Europe?”

Takis Hadjigeorgiou commented: “Like it or not, Russia is our neighbour and we should take immediate steps on both sides to come to a more cooperative situation and to adopt a more realistic approach. Sanctions do not help, nor does economic warfare. What we want is a Europe of cooperation and solidarity.”

For Jiří Maštálka there were many reasons that we cannot support the text. “It claims to be interested in dialogue with Russia yet prevents this dialogue from taking place. It is missing a tough stance on nationalists and neo-Nazis. We should first look at how we comply with internal rules when the President of this Parliament suspended the mandate of the lawfully established EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee.”

The vote on the Landsbergis report takes place tomorrow, Wednesday 10 June, at noon.

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