Russia, EU seek to repair ties in Far East
Russia: Russia, May 21, 2009 (AFP) - Russian and EU leaders
were to meet Thursday in a Trans-Siberian Railway city deep in Russia’s
Far East in a bid to set their rocky relationship back on track after a
series of crises.
Security and energy were set to top the agenda in Khabarovsk — the
most easterly venue ever chosen for an EU-Russia summit — after Russia’s
war with Georgia and the gas crisis with Ukraine severely dented Moscow-EU
President Dmitry Medvedev arrived earlier Thursday in Khabarovsk —
seven time zones from Moscow — to meet local students, regional chiefs
and governors from neighbouring Chinese and Mongolian regions, officials
The summit was to open formally in the evening at a working dinner
with the EU delegation led by EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso
and Czech President Vaclav Klaus, whose country holds the rotating EU
“Regular and frank political dialogue is the right way to manage our
relationship and it must prevail in all times, no matter how difficult
the issues at stake are,” Barroso said ahead of the summit.
Ties with the European Union, Russia’s largest trading partner, were
unsettled by its August war with Georgia and subsequent recognition of
Georgian breakaway regions as independent, which the EU vehemently
Then in January came the gas crisis with Ukraine which saw Russia cut
off supplies to several EU states for two weeks and prompted Barroso to
cast doubt on its reliability as an energy partner. The European Union
is also waiting for Russia to shift on the issues which are blocking its
bid to join the World Trade Organisation, including taxes on European
airlines overflying Siberia and taxes on wood imports.
Meanwhile, a top Kremlin official said that Russia would at the
meeting raise the issue of last month’s rioting in Moldova which some
Russian officials blamed on new EU member Romania.
“We want to ask our colleagues from the European Union whether they
intend to take responsibility for what European Union members do,”
Sergei Prikhodko was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
The slogan for the summit plastered all around the Far Eastern city
is the relatively modest “Russia-EU: A Dialogue of Interests”.
According to Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of the journal Russia in Global
Politics “Russia can’t expect anything from the Khabarovsk summit as
relations are in a disastrous state.”
Khabarovsk, Thursday, AFP