German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier says he is concerned about the deteriorating relationship between Russia and the West in the wake of the Skripal case and is calling for renewed diplomatic efforts to mend the damaged ties, local media reported Sunday.
"Totally irrespective of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, we must not declare all of Russia - the country, its people - as enemies," Steinmeier told newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
The Skripal poisoning was alarming "but the accelerating estrangement between Russia and the West, which has consequences reaching far beyond the case, should be of equal concern," Steinmeier said.
The president said there was virtually no trust between the two sides and the task of countering the accelerating estrangement "was the real challenge for responsible politics."
People should not be "dominated by an apocalyptic mood in the relationship with a difficult neighbor," the former German foreign minister added.
The German government was responsible for both the European Union's unity and its capacity to act and it should therefore repeatedly inform the Kremlin of the harm its actions were causing European-Russian relations, Steinmeier told the newspaper.
"That includes sanctions over the annexation of the Crimea peninsula and the conflict in eastern Ukraine," he said, "but we must not stop doing this in direct discussions."
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