Austria backs graduated Russia sanctions

Christian Kern during his swearing-in ceremony in May. [SPÖ/Flickr]

Brexit continues to have far-reaching consequences, among which is the potential for normalised relations with Russia. Austria is seeking a leading role in this push. EURACTIV Germany reports.

The alpine republic’s government met in full in Vienna on Monday (27 June) to discuss the ramifications of the Brexit vote. Austria’s new chancellor, Christian Kern, and his Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sebastian Kurz, emphasised that the EU must now act quickly to reassert itself. To this end, the focus has to be on security, migration, growth, employment, investment and the environment.

Special attention also has to be paid to Russia. Members from three of the country’s parties, the SPÖ, ÖVP and the Greens voted in favour of submitting an application to change the nature of the sanctions in place against Russia and in favour of a graduated model.

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The Vice-President of Austria’s National Council, Karlheinz Kopf, said that the sanctions have, so far, not achieved their target. The negative economic impact for both sides was also highlighted.

The proposed graduated model would link the sanctions to implementation of the Minsk agreement, so the sanctions would be eased off as progress is made.

Minister Kurz voiced his regret that the sanctions were extended last by the EU without discussion. In his view, it is time to strengthen ties with Russia once more.

The extreme-right Freedom Party did not participate in the application, as they believe that the amendment does not go far enough.

Whether the former Chancellor, Werner Faymann, will play any role in this process of rapprochement remains to be seen. Faymann, who was replaced by Kern in May, has signed up to Brussels’ lobbyist register.

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