Russian president, German chancellor discuss myriad of issues at meeting in Moscow.
MOSCOW (AA) – The Russian president and German chancellor discussed on Friday the evolving situation in Afghanistan, along with Ukraine and Libya.
Addressing a news conference after at a meeting in Moscow on Friday, Vladimir Putin thanked Angela Merkel “for fruitful work,” saying the outgoing chancellor would always be “a dear guest” in Russia.
“The Taliban movement now controls almost the entire territory of the country (Afghanistan), including the capital. These are realities and it is from these realities that we must proceed, not allowing the collapse of the Afghan state,” Putin said.
He noted that the Taliban have already announced an end to hostilities, begun to restore public order, and promised to guarantee the safety of local residents and foreign diplomatic missions.
“I hope all this will be implemented. This process should be closely monitored by the international community with the coordinating role of the UN Security Council,” he said.
He stressed the importance of now preventing terrorists under the guise of refugees from infiltrating countries adjacent to Afghanistan.
Turning to Ukraine, Putin said the Russian and German sides expressed serious concerns on growing tension along the contact line.
“It is disturbing that Ukraine has adopted a number of laws and by-laws that are inherently contrary to the Minsk Agreement. It seems that the leadership of this country has decided to abandon the peaceful resolution of this situation,” Putin said.
Putin added that he asked Merkel to persuade the Ukrainian authorities to fulfill all obligations under the Minsk Agreement.
Commenting on the construction of the Nord Stream II project, Putin said the pipeline was not a political project aiming to cut Ukraine from gas transit income from Russia to the EU.
He pointed out that the Nord Stream II is 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles) shorter than the pipeline through Ukraine and, was therefore economically more efficient.
Russia is ready to preserve transit through Ukraine he said, adding that the terms of further contracts depend on market demand.
Putin said he told Merkel that the problems in Belarusian society could be resolved only within the country’s constitutional and legal framework and exclusively by Belarusians themselves without external interference.
Restoration of Iran nuclear deal
The restoration of the Iran nuclear deal was also on the meeting’s agenda, the president said, expressing hope that after the formation of a new Iranian government, energized efforts would be made for the preservation of the deal.
Putin noted improvements in the situation in Libya, praising Merkel’s role and inviting the EU to join the humanitarian efforts in Syria.
“We attach great importance to the UN Security Council Resolution 2585 approved in July on comprehensive humanitarian assistance to Syria. This was largely the result of the agreements reached during the June Russian-American summit in Geneva. We hope that European countries, including Germany, will also join in providing humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people,” he said.
For her part, Merkel demanded the release of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny during the meeting with Putin.
She underlined that Navalny’s jailing was unacceptable for Germany as it was based on a sentence disputed by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
“Our bilateral relations have very positive aspects but there is also a depressing situation around Alexey Navalny. The sentencing and imprisonment took place on the basis of a court decision, which the ECHR called arbitrary and disproportionate. This is unacceptable for us, I expressed this and demanded release. We will continue to monitor this case,” Merkel said.
For his part, Putin insisted that Navalny had been convicted for crimes, not over political activities.
She also voiced concern over the listing of several German non-governmental organizations as foreign agents in Russia, insisting they were not engaged in political activities.
Ukraine, Belarus, Libya
On Ukraine, Merkel regretted that the Normandy Four format, comprising of Germany, France, Russia, and Ukraine, had slowed down and urged its revitalization.
She noted that the format’s last meeting was in December 2019 in Paris and that the decisions agreed there had not been implemented.
The chancellor also slammed the Belarusian response to recent EU sanctions, including its refusal on a migration agreement, saying: “It is unacceptable to use people in trouble as a hybrid weapon.”
As for Libya, she named a simultaneous, proportionate withdrawal of all foreign military forces from the country was the top priority for the country at the moment.
Merkel also said that the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was “a very upsetting moment.”
From the German point of view, it is now a priority to help people who have been cooperating with Germany in Afghanistan for 20 years in the NATO mission’s operation, to give them “a safe haven in Germany and take as many of these people to Germany as possible.”
“And I asked the Russian side in the negotiations with the Taliban to point to humanitarian assistance from UN organizations in Afghanistan in order to provide such assistance. Those people who helped us should be able to leave Afghanistan,” she said.
The German chancellor regretted that the Taliban “got more support in Afghanistan than one would like,” saying: “Now, we’ll have to negotiate with them.”
On climate change, she pointed out that as neighbors, Russia and the EU shared problems on this issue and that Russia had expressed interest in cooperation.
Merkel also said that over 16 years as German chancellor, she had faced many difficult talks in Moscow but always tried to find a compromise as she believes this is the only possible way to resolve problems.