Monday, 10 December, 2018

Putin to Merkel: Syrian Refugees Are a 'Burden on Europe'

Germany Calls for Boosting Relations with Russia Putin set to attend Austrian foreign minister's wedding
Ellis Copeland | 19 August, 2018, 12:29

Officials have said the leaders will not hold a news conference following their talks.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned against expectations that her meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday will produce any breakthrough on the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

Addressing reporters outside Berlin's Meseberg Castle before their talks, Merkel said she would also raise human rights issues and bilateral relations.

"I am of the opinion that controversial issues can only be addressed in dialogue and through dialogue", she said.

Russia-Germany Pipeline "Nord Stream 2 is a purely economic project", Putin said, adding that the Ukrainian transit route should be economically viable.

"I want to stress here that Nord Stream 2 is only an economic project and it does not close the door to the continuation of gas transit through the territory of Ukraine", he said.

The goal of the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline project is to double the existing pipeline's annual capacity of 55 billion cubic meters.

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The Kremlin views divisions between the United States and Europe over trade and the Iranian nuclear deal as a chance for Russian Federation to mend relations with Germany by presenting itself as a more reliable partner in negotiations. Germany's eastern European neighbors, nervous of Russian encroachment, have also raised concerns about the project.

In July, Putin assured that Russia was willing to keep Russian flowing through Ukraine after the pipeline was commissioned, but without going into details on volumes or tariffs.

Both Germany and Russian Federation have expressed a desire to maintain the agreement with Iran to limit its nuclear program in return for easing some economic sanctions. Putin is expected to return to Moscow Saturday evening.

Merkel spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday, ahead of her meeting with Putin, and discussed the situation in Ukraine and Syria, Macron's office said Friday in a statement, without elaborating.

Karin Kneissl is set to marry businessman Wolfgang Meilinger at a vineyard in Austria's Styria state.

"How is Austria's presidency of the European Union meant to live up to the government's own claims of building bridges (between the European Union and Russia) and being an honest broker, when Austria's foreign minister and chancellor are so obviously on one side?" asked MP Andreas Schieder of the opposition Social Democrats (SPOe).

Putin's remark, made before his first bilateral meeting with Merkel in Germany since 2013, hinted at the tension between the two leaders even as President Donald Trump's disruption of the global order pushes them into alliances of convenience after years of antagonism.

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