MOSCOW, September 14 (RIA Novosti) - German Vice-Chancellor and Minister of Economy and Energy, Sigmar Gabriel, believes that good relations with Russia are necessary for Europe, he stated in an interview with the German newspaper Bild on Sunday.
"Europe needs Russia, we are immediate neighbors and a good neighborhood is essential," Gabriel said in the interview.
The Vice-Chancellor expressed hope that Europe could trust Russian President Vladimir Putin again.
"We specifically notice during major international conflicts, for example in Northern Iraq and Syria, that it would be good if we could work together with Russia to jointly solve the conflicts," the German politician stated.
While Gabriel believes the European Union's tightened sanctions against Russia were necessary in "mitigating" Moscow, bolstered efforts to resolve the conflict in Ukraine are also needed. Attempts from Germany to gather all parties to the negotiating table need to continue. Gabriel urged Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Angela Merkel to push for a meeting "despite all the setbacks, again and again."
Relations have deteriorated between Russia and the EU following the situation in Ukraine.
On Friday, the US Treasury Department confirmed that it was once again expanding sanctions against Russian companies and increasing the number of sanctioned Russian entities in the financial, energy and defense sectors. On the same day, a new set of European Union sanctions against Russia came into force.
Moscow warned that it could respond to new Western sanctions to protect Russia's interests.