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EU Commission President: This club doesn't accept Putin

"I think it's a very powerful message that this democratic club of the most developed countries in the world does not accept today the Russia of Vladimir Putin."
By Aileen Graef   |   June 5, 2014 at 11:36 AM   |   Comments

BRUSSELS, June 5 (UPI) -- EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told the BBC that excluding Russian President Vladimir Putin from the G7Hague is a "very powerful message."

The G7 -- The U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and Canada -- expelled Russia from the exclusive club in March in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea. The G7 is meeting in Brussels without Putin for the first time since Russia's expulsion.

"I think it's a very powerful message that this democratic club of the most developed countries in the world does not accept today the Russia of Vladimir Putin," said Barroso.

In addition to kicking Russia out of the G8, Barroso said the fact that they moved the meeting from Sochi to Brussels was also a significant message.

"I can tell you these meetings are very important because they are intimate meetings, very informal where there is time -- differently from the G20 -- for leaders to go in depth in frank, open discussions. It's a pity today that Russia cannot be [here] but that is because of their behavior. We hope that they can show that they are reliable partners and like-minded partners but this is not the case today," Barroso

Barroso also mentioned that the door is not completely closed on Russia being welcomed back into the fold. He said when the G7 leaders met at The Hague, they indicated that if Russia "changes its behavior" the country could be reinstated.

After the G7 concludes, Putin is scheduled to have bilateral meetings with British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande. Barroso said that the meetings are important because Europe wants to keep the dialogue with Russia open.

Follow @AileenGraef and @UPI on Twitter.
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