Alexander Tkachev said Russia would “gradually and smoothly restore our relations with the EU” after bashing the European bloc for imposing sanctions on the country.
The politician, who spoke at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) in Berlin, Germany, slammed Eurocrats for trying to “put us in our place” after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
He said: “We actually haven’t participated in the ‘Agriculture Week’ for several years – it is an exhibition and a market, the biggest in Europe – because of political reasons.
“I believe that our position is absolutely correct because after they tried to put us in our place and to teach us and of course the sanctions are not accidental.”
However, Mr Tkachev admitted that the European market “naturally” interested the Vladimir Putin‘s administration.
“I believe that by and large the European market, naturally traditionally interests us but to a greater degree we receive greater benefits from exports with other markets,” he said.
“The Persian gulf, Asian Pacific region, China above all else, Indonesia, Korea and Egypt, Turkey, today’s Iran, we work actively with Brazil and Mexico, Argentina.
“Therefore our export turnover has increased over the years, today, by $ 17billion. So in the past years it has practically doubled. So therefore those are our priorities.”
But the minister remained hopeful of one day re-engaging with the EU.
He said: “When the sanctions really end, and we should expect them to, I think we are going to gradually and smoothly restore our relations with the EU – but it is not a priority for us.”
Speaking from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week, Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said it was not Russia’s choice to “curb” relations with the EU.
“Nobody will achieve anything through sanctions,” he added. “The sooner everybody understands that the better it will be for everyone.”
Tensions between Russia and the European Union have been poor for several years. Much of the deterioration is due to the fallout after the Ukraine crisis and subsequent Russian annexation of the Crimea Peninsula in 2014.
The Ukraine crisis began in late 2013 after then-president Viktor Yanukovych suspended preparations for an association agreement with the EU.
Mr Yanukovych was ousted after he refused to sign the agreement with the EU, causing a wave of protests and demonstrations in the country.