“Frank and direct” was the tone of the discusson that Prime Minister Charles Michel and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had on Wednesday morning in Brussels.
The head of the Belgian government had the opportunity to address the situations in Ukraine and the southern borders of Europe, as well as the rights of homosexuals, he told Belga Agency.
The two men spoke for an hour. “I called for strengthening the high-level dialogue between the European Union and Russia”, Charles Michel said. It is a plea that he had already made to the Heads of State and Government at the last European Council, to prolong a series of sanctions against Russia.
The interview was an opportunity to discuss the situation on the eastern borders of Europe, and more particularly in Ukraine. Russia annexed Crimea in early 2014, causing a severe crisis just a short distance from Europe. “I pleaded for both sides to respect the Minsk II accords”, the Prime Minister said. These agreements stipulate the ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine and are aimed at normalising their relations.
The two men also spoke about the situation on the southern borders of Europe, and particularly in Syria and Libya, where Russia is active. “I called for more consultation, because these situations are sources of conflict, and they have an impact in terms of migration, security and terrorism”, said Charles Michel.
Finally, this “frank and direct” meeting was an opportunity to discuss economic issues – and some energy projects – as well as questions relating to the rule of law and democracy. Several opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin have been silenced.
The Prime Minister finally raised the issue of gay rights, while independent Russian newspapers reported abuses – including torture and murder – of homosexuals in Chechnya, a constituent republic of The Russian Federation.