Slovenia Wants End to EU Sanctions on Russia That Hurt Trade

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Slovenia wants the European Union to end its sanctions on Russia because they are hurting trade between the two countries, Prime Minister Miro Cerar said.

The Balkan state of 2 million is among a faction of countries from the 28-member bloc, including Greece, whose leaders have advocated an end to penalties imposed on Russia for its annexation of Crimea last year. The trade and investment curbs have combined with low oil prices to help push Russia’s economy toward its first recession since 2009.

“Slovenia wants to see an end to EU-imposed sanctions against Russia as it’s hurting trade between the two nations,” Cerar said in Ljubljana on Monday after talks with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev. “We will press our case with the rest of EU, but it’s the whole EU that has to take the final decision.”

With its U.S. and EU allies accusing President Vladimir Putin’s administration of sending weapons, cash and fighters to separatists fighting government troops in Ukraine’s easternmost regions, EU leaders have extended the sanctions until the end of January. While Russia denies supporting rebels in Ukraine, Medvedev said his country backs its neighbor’s territorial integrity following the takeover of Crimea.

Any decision to extend sanctions requires a unanimous vote among EU members. Slovenia and other countries have agreed to side with the majority in the bloc for now.

Slovenia’s two biggest exporters, Gorenje d.d. and Krka Group d.d., have suffered from falling revenue due to Russia’s economic decline. The country’s exports to Russia fell by almost a third in the first quarter compared with end-2014 to 3 percent of all sales abroad, according to the government’s Institute for Macroeconomic Analysis and Development.

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