MOSCOW, July 15 (RIA Novosti) – Relations between Russia and the European Union are going through difficult times, but Moscow hopes to continue developing strategic partnership, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.
Putin sent a congratulatory letter to Jean-Claude Juncker, who earlier in the day was approved to head the European Union’s supreme executive body for the next five years.
«In the congratulatory telegram, the head of the Russian state underlined that Juncker takes office at a difficult period for the whole Europe. Having noted that the relations between Russia and the European Union are going through serious tests, Putin nevertheless expressed hope that they will develop in the spirit of mutually beneficial strategic partnership in future," Putin said.
The Russian president also said he is convinced that “high international authority, rich political experience and principal commitment of Juncker towards the idea of Europe’s unity” will encourage constructive work of the European Commission and serve the goal of boosting ties between Russia and the EU.
Defining his foreign policy objectives, Juncker said the Ukrainian crisis has shown how important it is that Europe is united. “There is still a long way to go for this. I believe we cannot be satisfied with how our common foreign policy is working at the moment. We need better mechanisms in place to anticipate events early and to swiftly identify common responses.”
Relations between Russia and the European Union have been strained following Crimea’s reunification with Russia that pushed Brussels and Washington to impose sanctions against a number of Russian officials and several Crimean enterprises.
Moscow has also been threatened with tougher restrictive measures that could target key sectors of the country’s economy. Russia has repeatedly stated that the language of sanctions is «inappropriate and counterproductive» and warned its Western partners about the «boomerang effect» the sanctions would have.