Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Questions (62)

John Lahart


62. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his assessment of the current state of relations between the European Union and Russia. [24135/21]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland fully supports the principles agreed by the EU in 2016 to guide our interaction with Russia. In the long-term, a strong and stable relationship between the EU and Russia is a desirable strategic goal. Our relationship with Russia is a vital one, and we must keep diplomatic channels of dialogue open.

Regrettably, Russia has chosen to isolate itself. The actions in Ukraine, Syria, and elsewhere, are having a profoundly negative impact on Europe’s relations with Russia. There is little prospect of any significant improvement in the relationship until Russia fulfils its obligations under the Minsk Peace Agreements.

There has been a deterioration in the environment for civil society in Russia. The recent changes in the foreign agents’ law are an example of this and both the EU and Ireland are concerned that these laws are being used to further crack down on civil society and critical voices.

Most recently, the EU has introduced new sanctions related to the poisoning and imprisonment of Alexei Navalny and separately on two individuals involved in LGBTI rights abuses in Chechnya.

Preserving EU unity in our approach is of primary concern, in order to strengthen our voice, maintain our credibility, and protect our interests and values. Recent events in Czech Republic and on the Ukraine - Russia Border reinforce further that need for unity. Despite our differences on many issues, it is appropriate to selectively engage with our largest neighbour in addressing global challenges where it is in the clear interests of the EU to do so. I regularly discuss relations with Russia with other EU Foreign Ministers and EU leaders are planning a discussion on the direction of the relationship at their meeting on May 25th.