Former President of Austria Heinz Fischer remains optimistic about the future of EU-Russia relations and hopes to see deescalation of the Syrian conflict, which is one of the most problematic issues in bilateral ties, over the next year, Fischer said on Thursday.

 

Putin, Fischer

 

“We have several sources for tensions, that is true, but we must accept one challenge after another and try to improve the situation…. I am optimistic about our relations,” Fischer, who left presidential post in July 2016.There is the conflict in Syria. I hope that the next year will bring such tension progressing in calming down in Syria,” he pointed out adding that if the peace settlement process in Ukraine and Syria makes advances, “the situation between the European Union and Russia will also improve,” he told reporters at Valdai Discussion Club meeting in Sochi.

 

Anti-Russian sanctions inflict damage on both EU member states’ and Russian economies, corresponding political solutions should be found in order to phase them out, Former President of Austria Heinz Fischer said on Thursday.

 

“Without doubt, sanctions [against Russia] harm not only Austrian economy, but the economy of several European countries, and they harm the economy of Russia,” Fischer, who left presidential post in July 2016. It’s our duty to find political solutions that will make it possible to reduce and finally lift the sanctions,” he added.

 

The EU-Russia relations have been strained since Crimea reunified with Russia in 2014, with Brussels accusing Moscow of meddling in Ukraine’s internal affairs. Russian officials have repeatedly dismissed the allegations.

 

The tensions have exacerbated in light of the situation in Syria, especially in the embattled city of Aleppo, with certain EU politicians, including UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, raising the issue of possible Syria-related sanctions against Russia.