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Czech president urges EU to end Russia sanctions

© SPUTNIK/AFP | Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets in Sochi with his Czech counterpart Milos Zeman (L) who has called for an end to EU sanctions against Moscow.

SOCHI (RUSSIA) (AFP) - 

Czech President Milos Zeman on Tuesday called for an end to EU sanctions against Russia imposed over the Ukraine crisis, as well as the retaliatory measures introduced by Moscow.

Zeman, a pro-Russia veteran of the left in EU member the Czech Republic, made the remarks following a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

"I have not accepted these sanctions... I have been opposed to them for a long time. This is not just a question of European sanctions towards Russia, but also of Russian sanctions towards the EU," Zeman said.

"Mr President, we must put an end to this!"

Relations between Brussels and Moscow nosedived after Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in 2014.

The European Union introduced heavy economic sanctions mainly targeting banks and also defence and oil companies. Russia responded by banning the import of food products from EU member states.

"A normalisation of relations between Russia and the EU would be in the common interest" of Moscow and Prague, Putin said, thanking Zeman for "the efforts he has made towards the development of Russian-Czech relations".

Zeman, 73, faces elections in January where is favoured to win a second term.

© 2017 AFP