UPDATES WITH QUOTES FROM BRITISH PRIME MINISTER
By Diyar Guldogan
ANKARA (AA) - The EU can "under no condition" agree to Russia's return to the G8, European Council President Donald Tusk said on Saturday.
"beOne year ago, in Canada, [U.S.] President [Donald] Trump suggested reinviting Russia to G7, stating openly that Crimea’s annexation by Russia was partially justified. And that we should accept this fact. Under no condition can we agree with this logic," Tusk said.
His remarks came ahead of the G7 summit in French town of Biarritz, where leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. have gathered.
Russia was suspended from the G8 in 2014 due to its annexation of Crimea as well as its political and military support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.
"When it comes to speculations around inviting Russia to the table I would like to say this. First: the reasons why Russia was disinvited in 2014, are still valid. What is more, there are new reasons, such as the Russian provocation on the Azov Sea," Tusk said.
He also said Russia did not pursue the path of liberal democracy, rule of law, and human rights.
Tusk added it would be better to invite Ukraine as a guest to the next G7 meeting.
"Today I will try to convince my interlocutors that it would be better to invite Ukraine, as a guest of course, to the next G7 meeting, to hear the opinion of the new President [Volodymyr Zelensky]," he said.
Relations between Kiev and Moscow broke down after Russia annexed Crimea following an illegal independence vote in 2014.
The UN, the EU, the U.S., and Turkey do not recognize Crimea as Russian territory.
- 'EU open to cooperation, but not on no-deal'
Tusk said he will have a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday to discuss Brexit.
He said the EU was always open to cooperation, adding: "The one thing I will not cooperate on is no deal. And I still hope that PM Johnson will not like to go down in history as Mr No Deal."
Tusk said the EU is willing to listen to the ideas that are "operational, realistic, and acceptable" to all member states including Ireland, if and when the U.K. government is ready to put them on the table.
Johnson has repeatedly stated that he would take the U.K. out of the EU by Oct. 31 and that although he is confident in negotiating a deal with Brussels, he was also making preparations for a no-deal Brexit.
En route to Biarritz, Johnson told reporters that if the EU did not want a no-deal Brexit, they should get rid of the backstop from the treaty.
"If Donald Tusk doesn’t want to go down as Mr No-Deal Brexit then I hope that point would be borne in mind by him too," he said.
- G7 Summit
About the G7 summit in Biarritz, Tusk said it will be a "difficult test" of unity and solidarity of the free world and its leaders.
''There is still no certainty whether the group will be able to find common solutions, and the global challenges are today really serious, or whether it will focus on senseless disputes among each other," he added.
During the summit, leaders will focus on tackling inequality this year. They are also expected to address economic issues, foreign policy and protection of the environment.
Holding the G7 presidency until the end of 2019, France renewed the format of the G7 summit and invited partner countries including Australia, Chile, India and South Africa to take part in the meeting.
* Writing by Gozde Bayar