Saturday, August 1, 2015

Putin wants to be rival, not a partner: Harper

BERLIN—Prime Minister Stephen Harper and German Chancellor Angela Merkel say they are united in their view that Russia has grossly violated Ukrainian sovereignty by annexing the Crimean peninsula.
Following a meeting today between the two G7 leaders, Harper also opined that chances are slim Russian President Vladimir Putin ever could be welcomed back to the G8.

The G7 nations—the U.S., Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and Japan—effectively booted Russia from the G8 earlier this week over its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula following a pro-Western uprising.
“He has not desired to be a partner, he’s desired to be a rival, and that’s just the reality that we have to come to terms with,” Harper told a news conference following his meeting with Merkel.
“I don’t see any way of a return for Mr. Putin to the table unless Russia fundamentally changes its course.”
In advance of next week’s NATO meeting in Brussels on the crisis in eastern Europe, Harper noted: “No one is seeking a military escalation.”
But at the same time, Russian aggression “has the attention” of NATO, particularly NATO partners in eastern Europe, Harper added.
Merkel, asked how much pain Germany was willing to endure as a result of the economic sanctions against Russia, said she was unconcerned.
“I am quite relaxed, let’s put it that way.”
Merkel, meantime, said if Russia doesn’t de-escalate the situation, it will face further sanctions from the international community.
She added she hopes Putin makes the “right decisions” given his actions are harming the European economy, as well as Russia’s.
Harper and Merkel—the two most senior members of the G7—sat down for an hour at the Chancellery in Berlin overlooking the historic Reichstag building.
They exchanged kisses on the cheek upon meeting in an outdoor courtyard, then chatted warmly as they entered the building.
While the two leaders discussed the Canadian-German trade relationship, their talks focused on the ominous events playing out in Ukraine.
“We are united in our view that President Putin’s actions are a clear and unacceptable violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” Harper said.
“President Putin’s actions are also in contravention of Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter and its agreement to respect Ukraine’s borders.”

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