Food embargo should be discussed between EU, Russia - Council of Europe

Belgium has not asked Russia to lift the embargo on its food products, and such issues should be discussed between the EU and Russia, says Belgian Foreign Minister and Council of Europe Committee of Ministers Chairman Didier Reynders.

Belgium has not asked Russia to lift the embargo on its food products, and such issues should be discussed between the EU and Russia, says Belgian Foreign Minister and Council of Europe Committee of Ministers Chairman Didier Reynders.

"Belgium pursues its policy in solidarity with the European Union, and therefore such proposals on softening the embargo should be discussed between the EU and Russia. We didn't touch upon this matter at negotiations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov," Reynders said in an interview with Interfax.

"We work within the framework of the European Union's position, and therefore Belgium has not put forward any special demands for Russia regarding the food embargo," he said.

Reynders acknowledged that, after Russia introduced the food embargo, exports of Belgian products to Russia have declined. "At the same time, despite the EU sanctions and Russia's countermeasures, there are economy sectors in which cooperation with Russia is continuing," he said.

In particular, Russia and Belgium are continuing to cooperate in the energy sector, he said.

Belgium also plans to sign an agreement on the elimination of double taxation with Russia, Reynders said.

"I proposed to Sergei Lavrov that he should not only take part in a Council of Europe Committee of Ministers meeting but also sign an agreement on the elimination of double taxation between Belgium and Russia at this forum. This agreement has already been drawn up and has only to be signed. We will try to do this in May," he said.

"This agreement makes it possible to avoid double taxation, and this would enable Russian investors in Belgium and Belgian investors in Russia to take their profits out of the country without paying taxes twice," Reynders said.

The full version of Reynders' interview will be published later on www.interfax.ru.

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