The chairman of the Free Democratic Party of Germany (FDP), Christian Lindner spoke in favour of Berlin adjusting its direction of politics with Russia.
"Security and prosperity in Europe depend, in particular, on relations with Moscow," he said in an interview with Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.
“Western countries should make an offer to Russian President Vladimir Putin, which would allow him to change his policy without losing his credibility,” Lindner said. "Talking about this is considered taboo, but I'm afraid that for now the Crimea should be regarded as a temporary solution for an indefinite period."
Lindner’s position was that the conflict over Russian-annexed Crimea should be "fenced off" from the rest of the topics in order to make progress in other directions.
The agreement of the Baltic states of the USSR before the Second World War was also not recognized by the West but despite this, in the 1970s, German Chancellor Willy Brandt, together with Foreign Minister Walter Scheel, developed their "new eastern policy," Lindner explained. The change of direction regarding the Soviet Union and the compromise with the Eastern Bloc were a new look at the state of affairs and such changes are necessary today, the leader of the German democrats assured.
Lindner also believes that it would be necessary to reconsider the attitude towards EU’s sanctions against the Russian leadership. According to him, elimination of the sanctions should not rely on compliance with all of the conditions of the Minsk agreement regarding the conflict in the Eastern Ukraine. "It is necessary to evaluate the intermediate steps in the right direction as well," he said.
Later Lindner wrote a message on Facebook to clarify his position. He said that his proposal should not be taken as recognition of the annexation of the Crimea.
"The FDP supports the principles of international law. The FDP sees Germany as part of the West. That is why transatlantic relations take precedence. Therefore, we support our Eastern European NATO partners at every opportunity. We do not accept the annexation of the Crimea, which is contrary to the international law, or any other imperial gestures of the Kremlin," he declared.
In his opinion, the issue of the Crimea cannot be solved now; it is necessary to talk about the annexation of the peninsula and not recognize it as lawful. However, the dialog about the annexation should not be tying all other issues, since it would impede the progress in relations with Russia. According to Lindner, an example of such a long temporary condition may be Northern Cyprus, which is recognized only by Turkey.
German parliamentary elections will soon be held on September 24, 2017. Lindner’s Free Democratic Party, which is not currently represented in the Bundestag, has a rating of 8% to 9% and should be able to secure the seats in the new German Parliament.