Germany’s Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel called on Thursday for the European Union to try to create conditions by this summer to lift sanctions imposed against Russia over the Ukraine crisis.
“That must be our common goal,” said Gabriel, whose Social Democrats (SDP) share power with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives.
EU governments have extended asset freezes and travel bans on Russians and Russian companies but there is less consensus on whether to prolong more far-reaching sanctions on Russia’s banking, defense and energy sectors from July.
At a German-Russian forum in Berlin, Gabriel also spoke out in favor of pursuing an EU free trade deal with Russia, like the one being worked on with the United States.
“(We should) aim for such a deal with the Russian Federation with all our strength,” said Gabriel, adding this was not a short term goal.