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Austrian Vice Chancellor, Head of Raiffeisen Decry Sanctions in Moscow

Fresh on the heals of the controversial visit of Bavaria's prime minister, who opposes sanctions, to meet with Putin, the Vice Chancellor of Austria and Head of Austria's major bank, Raiffeisen, have come to Moscow with the same message 

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Originally Appeared at Sputnik Deutschland. Translated from the German from Werner Schrimpf

During his visit with Moscow, Austria’s Federal Minister of the Economy and Vice Chancellor, Mr. Reinhold Mitterlehner, discussed flawed trade relations between both countries due to the EU sanctions against Russia.

Prior to his visit, die vice chancellor explained that unless the economic relations between both countries are revitalized, up to 40,000 Austrian citizens may lose their jobs– Mr. Mitterlehner expressed a “very critical opinion” of the sanctions. Approximately 1,200 Austrian businesses are operating in Russia and more than 500 own local branches there.

Within the framework of the conference of the Austrian-Russian commission for trade and economic cooperation, Mr. Mitterlehner agreed to foster a “partnership of modernization” for both countries. This partnership comprises 26 projects with an aggregated volume of capital expenditures of 4 billion euros, according to reports from the state TV station ORF.

During his meeting with Mr. Mitterlehner, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Kozak, stated that EU-sanctions are a “dead end” – Europe’s economy is suffering a combined loss of 50 billion euros.

“The business community is tired of sanctions and counter sanctions,“ Mr. Mitterlehner confirmed. These sanctions haven’t contributed to any political progress. “On the contrary, they’ve caused massive economic damages to both sides,” Mr. Mitterlehner added.

Mr. Walter Rothensteiner, boss of the influential banking group „Raiffeisen,“ who accompanied Austria’s vice chancellor and his delegation, explained to Austria’s newspaper “Kurier” that “Sanctions should be lifted as soon as possible. Sanctions are harmful for Austria, as well as for the Russians. Agriculture and industry are suffering.”

Relations between Russia and the West have been deteriorating since the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis. EU and the U.S. first started with sanctions against individuals and later they extended sanctions to whole branches of Russia’s economy. As a counter measure, Russia imposed a ban on food from countries which had joined in sanctions against Russia – the U.S., EU-countries, Canada, Australia and Norway.

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