Russia FM Sergei Lavrov to discuss in Luxembourg Russia-EU summit preparations

Aprail 29, 2008

MOSCOW, April 29 (Itar-Tass) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday is departing for Luxembourg where he will discuss at a meeting with the European troika the preparation for the Russia-EU summit in Khanty-Mansiisk and for talks on a new framework agreement on partnership with the European Union.

“Meetings with the EU foreign political troika are an important component part of the Russia-European Union political dialogue,” Russian Foreign Ministry’s acting spokesman Boris Malakhov said. “The main attention at the coming talks will be given to issues of the preparation of the Russia-EU summit in Khanty-Mansiisk on June 26-27, the general assessment of Russia-EU cooperation, progress of the fulfilment of the ‘road map’ plan on the common external security space,” he added. “The meeting agenda will include the exchange of views on such important international problems as Kosovo, the Middle East settlement, the situation in Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan,” the Foreign Ministry officials noted.

“We have the following current priorities in the relations with the European Union: the comprehensive fulfilment of roadmaps; free travelling, including negotiations on the eventual abolition of visa formalities; the worthy fulfilment of the agreements on simpler visa formalities and readmission; the larger interaction with the European Union in crisis management; the provision of rights of Russians in Latvia and Estonia; and the Russian accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO),” said Malakhov.

“International issues would be one of the most complicated and politically significant areas of the Russia-EU interaction,” he noted. “The agenda will include such important international issues as Kosovo, the Middle East settlement process, the situation in Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan.”

“It is important to discuss ways of Russia-EU interaction in the settlement of conflicts, including cooperation in crisis management,” he said. Russia has met the EU request for sending a helicopter squad to Chad and the Central African Republic.

“The participation of Russia in that operation will be a pilot project in the crisis management cooperation with the European Union,” the diplomat said. “Russia thinks that the sides should draft agreements, which will give them equal rights in missions of the kind. We think that this clause should be included in the agreements on the Russian participation in the EU operation in Chad and the Central African Republic. We also offer our partners to adopt a separate agreement to that effect,” he noted.

“Russia has shown interest in the development of the European Union with the upcoming adoption of the Lisbon Treaty,” Malakhov said. “Russia hopes to build up cooperation with the EU, which will speak one voice, upgrade the decision-making process and encourage bilateral contacts,” he added.

On the eve of a meeting with the Russian president Lavrov said that the beginning of the talks on the new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between Russia and the EU might be announced at the June summit in Khanty-Mansiisk. “If the thing happen as we expect, as implied (in the EU), then it would be possible to start the talks in the short run and announce (this) at the Khanty-Mansiisk summit,” the minister said. “It is interesting that they are giving signals to us that the EU is completing the settlement of problems with the approval of the mandate for the talks on a new agreement of partnership and cooperation,” Lavrov noted. “We are ready for these talks, the directives for our delegation were approved 18 months ago,” he added.

At the same time, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s department of European cooperation Sergei Ryabkov said that in the event of not issuing of the mandate “Russia will not exert pressure on the EU.” “Russia is interested in the launch of talks on the new agreement no more than the European Union,” the official stressed. “We will give the European as much time as it needs for realising the necessity to launch the talks,” he said.

“The agenda of the forthcoming Luxembourg meeting will include the exchange of views on such important international problems as Kosovo, the Middle East settlement, the situation in Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan,” said the diplomat. “The discussion of the ways to strengthen interaction with the EU in efforts to reduce the conflict zone in the world, including by way of cooperation in the sphere of crisis settlement will be of major importance,” according to Ryabkov.

He also said that “if we believe that the European Union is ripe for an understanding that the situation should be returned to a truly legal framework, it is quite apparent that the European Union’s own mission in the field of the rule of law, which they are going to launch in Kosovo, should be made one of supports of the UN’s presence properly transforming the currently declared autonomous and independent mission of the EU.”

In an interview to radio Voice of Russia earlier he stressed the need for the “resumption of negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina.”

“Only decisions on which the sides can come to mutual agreement can be considered legitimate, and this is recognised by the international law doctrine. This is a basis of the Declaration on Principles of International Law and the Helsinki Final Act, these are commonplace truths, and it is it strange that they have to be repeated many times,” Ryabkov said.

“The problem lies in that the EU does not see in its action violations of the international law and believes that its really acts on a lawful basis. Russia tries at its hardest to prove and show that this is a deeply erroneous interpretation and that it undermines foundations of the international system.”

Ryabkov added that he was “not inclined to dramatise the situation.” “Russia is against confrontation and believes that you should proceed from personal interests. This is a pragmatic approach that is a basis of our joint work on the European and other tracks,” he said.

“The future agreement, when we come to sign it, should be less inclined towards economics, commerce and investment, although, of course, those problems should also be reflected in it,” the diplomat said. “It should reflect all the areas of cooperation, including problems linked with the backing of small and medium business, social aspect of our relationships, cooperation in the work to guarantee “external security.”

“This should be a document, giving a definite signal to the peoples of the European Union, to Russia and to the entire world community, that the European Union and Russia are partners, which cannot do without each other,” Ryabkov stressed. “In addition to this agreement, we must be prepared to elaborate and adopt so-called sectoral accords, each of which is to cover its own important area of cooperation, be it transport, energy, science or technology,” the diplomat stated.

“We are not adducing any obligatory precondition that the entire set of sectoral accords should be drawn up right away and appended to the principal agreement,” he specified. “Thereby, a pattern will be formed, in which the juridically binding general frameworks, containing fundamental postulates and intended for each individual area, will be formulated and concretised by means of additional sectoral documents,” Ryabkov stated.

The forthcoming talks will involve Sergei Lavrov, Dimitrij Rupel, Foreign Minister of Slovenia which currently presides over the EU, Bernard Kouchner, Foreign Minister of France (next presiding country), Benita Ferrero-Waldner, member of the Commission of the European Communities, who is in charge of external relations and neighbourhood policy, and Javier Solana, EU Council Secretary-General (High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy).