The Austrian presidency will focus in particular in seuring the Eastern Partnership, improving the dialogue with Russia, among other goals. Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that during his address before the European Parliament on 3 July 2018.
“We want to make a contribution to improving the Eastern neighbourhood relationship. There have been reactions to the Russian aggressions and also sanctions due to violations of international law. But at the same time it is necessary to reinforce our communication channels, as peace on our continent is only possible together with Russia and not against Russia,” Sebastian Kurz said.
“We are happy if we can act as a bridge builder in some difficult questions, in the interest of all Europeans and the interest of our European Union,” he finished his 10 minutes address.
As we reported earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel also spoke of “the need to work on good relations with Russia” on her video blog speaking ahead of a NATO summit in Brussels next week.
"Of course, we want to have a responsible relationship with Russia," Merkel added. "That's the reason why we will continue to have talks in the NATO-Russia Council."
However, Merkel said it was important for NATO to "focus more on defending the alliance."
Merkel also said it was important for NATO to "focus more on defending the alliance" and to increase the defense spending and the significance of NATO, following the Russian annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula and Moscow's support for rebels in eastern Ukraine.