Putin, EU's Juncker to meet next week after 19-month hiatus

Russian President Vladimir Putin and top EU official Jean-Claude Juncker will meet in the Russian city of St Petersburg next week, the European Commission said Friday, despite enduring tensions over sanctions that the West has imposed on Moscow.

It will be the first time in 19 months that the two men come "face to face," after having last met in 2014 on the margins of a G20 summit, commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said. Juncker heads the commission, which is the European Union's executive.

The two men will meet on the margins of the prominent St Petersburg International Economic Forum. Juncker is also due to deliver a speech while in St Petersburg on June 16-17.

His trip has been criticized in some EU countries. Estonian Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand last week suggested that Juncker's participation in the forum was not "strictly necessary," according to the BNS news agency.

His visit to Russia comes as the 28-country EU prepares to prolong the toughest of the sanctions it imposed on Russia following its annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The economic sanctions, which hamper Russian imports into the EU and Russian banks' access to European markets, are due to expire at the end of July.

Kaljurand urged Juncker to "call on Russia to meet its international obligations when it comes to European security and human rights, to end the aggression in Ukraine and the unlawful annexation of Crimea."

Juncker has advocated for relations with Russia to be improved, but also warned last month that there will not be any "softening of European positions in St Petersburg."

Last update: Thu, 30/06/2016 - 12:19
Author: 

More from Europe

More explosives found in Germany following bomb-making arrest

Following the arrest of a suspected bomb maker in Germany's Lower Rhine region, police said they found explosives in...

EU starts "new era" of NATO cooperation amid uncertainty over Trump

NATO foreign ministers signed a deal on closer collaboration with the European Union on Tuesday, with the bloc's top...

Merkel re-elected party leader after toughening tone on refugees

Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) have edged to the right with plans for a tougher...

Greek court extradites some Turkish officers, others to stay

A court in Athens has agreed to a request from Turkey to extradite three military officers accused of plotting to...

Despite defeat, Austrian far-right aims for big vote take in 2017

This weekend's loss in the Austrian presidential election will not deter Austria's far-right Freedom Party (FPOe)...