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German Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth attends a European Union foreign ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium May 15, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir(reuters_tickers)
BERLIN (Reuters) - German Europe Minister Michael Roth called for the European Union to adopt a united front against Russia with the aim of reducing tensions, warning that "anti-Russian reflexes" were as dangerous as naivety about Russia's "nationalist" course.
Roth's intervention, in an article for Die Welt newspaper, came amid signs that under conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel and Social Democrat (SPD) Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Germany's position towards Russia is hardening, especially since a poison attack in Britain, widely blamed on Russia.
Roth, in remarks that seemed designed to reflect the more pro-Russian views of the SPD's members, said Europe's sanctions against Russia should be maintained, but with the aim of bringing Russia to the negotiating table.
"Sanctions aren't a goal in themselves," he wrote. "They should encourage people back to the negotiating table to work on reasonable solutions ... Anti-Russian reflexes are just as dangerous as naively relativising the nationalist-tinged policies of the Russian leadership."
(Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Paul Carrel)