Turkey and Egypt can once again export fruit and vegetables to Russia. Moscow reopened its borders to both of the boycotted countries. Russia does not want to negotiate with Europe about the sanctions during a meeting of the UN. An Austrian politician says the annexation of Crimea is a reality, and that Crimea has always been Russian. The Russian Minister of Agriculture says the country has nothing to fear from the lifting of the boycott; the sector is looking good.
Russia lifts boycott Egypt
The boycott of Egyptian fruit and vegetables, with the exception of potatoes, will be lifted, according to the Russian press agency Tass. “The parties reached an agreement on the export of Egyptian fruit and vegetables,” said the Russian phytosanitary service. The Egyptian companies now meet the phytosanitary requirements that have been set by Russia. A Russian delegation will visit the country in order to evaluate the situation in October and November. During this final visit, the potato export will be evaluated. Exports have been boycotted by Russia since 22 September.
Turkey receives first orders
It has been brewing since the latest meeting between Putin and Erdoğan, but the boycott of Turkish fruit and vegetables will finally be lifted. This week, the West Mediterranean Exporters Association (BAIB) reported that Turkish exporters have already received the first orders of Russian customers, after a visit to World Food Moscow earlier this month. The orders are for products including tomatoes, bell peppers, courgettes, pomegranates, oranges and lettuce; products that have all been boycotted since January.
No negotiation between Russia and EU during meeting at UN
Russia does not want to negotiate about the sanctions with the EU during the UN’s meeting. “We never asked that question. We were not the ones implementing the sanctions, and we are not the ones who should lift the sanctions,” according to the Russian State Secretary of Foreign Affairs.
Austrian politician: Russian Crimea is a reality
Austrian politician Heinz-Christian Strache, of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPA), thinks the annexation of the Crimea by Russia is already a political reality. “The referendum was democratic and legal. We were there and had the opportunity to make sure that reunification was in accordance with the interests of a majority of the population,” the politician told Welt am Sonntag. The Austrian also emphasised that the peninsula has always been Russian and that it had been “illegally transferred by Khrushchev.” Finally, the EU has a double moral standard according to Strache. He referred to the position of the EU as regards the founding of Kosovo.
Stalemate in Europe
Within the European Union, a stalemate appears to have been created between proponents and opponents of the sanctions against Russia. Next month, another meeting will be held on the relationship with Russia. The camp of the proponents has been weakened by the Brexit. The opponents are still led by Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Slovakia and Hungary. According to sources within the EU, the situation will remain practically the same. Opponents are reluctant to be the only country voting against the sanctions. “It would be different if a few countries were to vote against the sanctions together,” a source told Reuters
Lifting the boycott not harmful to Russia
According to Alexander Tkachev, the Russian Minister of Agriculture, the Russian sector does not have to worry if the sanctions are lifted. “No one can be sure the sanctions will be lifted at the end of 2017,” Tkachev said during a televised interview. “For our part, we could maintain them for five more years, but if they are lifted, they will not cause any shocking consequences.” According to the minister, the sector is competitive enough, in part thanks to subsidies, the exchange rate is favourable to Russian cultivators, and consumers will be more interested in domestic products.
European supermarkets in Crimea
European supermarket organisations that have branches in Crimea are still doing business with the peninsula. To do so, they use a construction of subsidiaries. Press agency Reuters researched this construction and wrote an expansive article about it.