Brussels [Belgium], February 9 (ANI/Sputnik): Josep Borrell, the European Union's foreign policy chief, has defended his recent visit to Russia, saying that it was the right time to set out the bloc's position on the Alexey Navalny case, despite facing fierce criticism from European Parliament lawmakers on Tuesday.
During a parliamentary session, several lawmakers called on Borrell to resign from his position for deciding to visit Russia late last week to hold talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
"Perhaps it was the wrong time [to visit Moscow]. OK, there are differences of opinion on this. Some people think it was the wrong time because of the ruling against Mr Navalny and others might think that it was precisely because of that, that it was the right time to go in order to clearly, directly, and personally set out our position. It is easier to stay at my desk writing statements. It would have been much less risky and more comfortable," Borrell told the parliamentary session.
The EU's foreign policy chief said that he felt it was necessary to tell Lavrov face-to-face what he puts down in writing, and noted that a majority of the bloc's foreign ministers supported his visit.
Borrell visited the Russian capital from February 4-6 and held extensive talks with his Russian counterpart on the state of relations between Brussels and Moscow.
During a joint press conference, Borrell called for the release of Alexey Navalny, the opposition activist whose suspended jail sentence was rescinded last week due to probation violations. The bloc's top diplomat also expressed his hope that Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine would receive certification for use in the European Union.
Borrell issued a statement critical of Russia following his arrival back in Brussels, hinting that the bloc could impose further sanctions against Moscow, which the Russian Foreign Ministry said contradicted his remarks during his time in the Russian capital. (ANI/Sputnik)