Tuesday, June 5, 2012

EU-Russia summit covers wide agenda, from Partnership for Modernization to Syria....

EU-Russia relations are enjoying their best dynamics for years, President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy said following the EU-Russia summit in St Petersburg on 3-4 June, but there is still much to be done “to untap what is potentially possible.”

Van Rompuy described the results of the two last years – the Russian WTO accession, the Partnership for Modernization, and the common steps towards visa free travel – as remarkable, and welcomed “President Putin’s commitment to bringing this work further together with the EU”.
The European Council President highlighted the following points:
· On the economy, Europe is facing “testing times”, but remains determined to work its way through the challenges, he said, adding: “there is no way back for the Euro. There is only the way ahead towards more integration.
· On EU-Russia bilateral relations, Van Rompuy said the summit had reconfirmed the need for an ambitious and comprehensive bilateral New Agreement, including trade and investments, as the best basis for a closer Partnership, and welcomed the idea of the Eurasian Economic Union based on the WTO-rules.
· The EU-Russia Partnership for Modernisation remains one of the priorities, Van Rompuy said, stressing that a vibrant civil society should be seen as “an integral part for real modernisation.
· On human rights, the European Council President welcomed Russia’s “readiness for public debate on human rights, as exemplified by the recent hearing in the Russian State Duma,” adding the next round of EU-Russia Human Rights consultations would take place in Brussels on 29 June.
· EU and Russian leaders also touched upon a range of foreign policy issues, includingthe situation in Syria, which Van Rompuy described as appalling. He said despite some diverging assessments, the EU and Russia fully agreed that the Annan Plan as a whole provided “the best opportunity to break the cycle of violence in Syria, avoiding a civil war, and in finding a peaceful lasting solution.” In his words, the EU and Russia need to combine their efforts in order for this to happen, and to find common messages on which they agree. “We need to work towards an immediate stop of all forms of violence in Syria, and towards process of political transition,” Van Rompuy said.
On Iran, the EU and Russia are working closely together and with other partners to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, Van Rompuy said.
As regards the Common Neighbourhood, the Council President reiterated the EU’s support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia calling on Russia fully to implement the 2008 commitments. Finally, he said the EU welcomed Russia’s constructive approach in the ‘5+2’ negotiations in the Transnistria conflict.
In a separate statement, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said the EU-Russia summit in Saint Petersburg had confirmed the important shared interests and willingness of both partners “to build stronger relations and work even closer together.”
At a press conference concluding the first day of the summit, Barroso described the EU-Russia Partnership for Modernisation as being “in a phase of full implementation”, adding he was happy to say that President Putin saw it as a priority. “Russia is engaged in a very important process and we are very proud to be partners of Russia in that regard,” President Barroso said. (EU Neighbourhood Info)
Read more
Van Rompuy Remarks
Barroso Statement
EU-Russia Summit – background memo
EU Neighbourhood Info Centre webpage – Russia...

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