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Euro zone crisis, visa-free travel to dominate RF-EU summit in Brussels

December 15, 2011, 6:04 UTC+3

The summiteers will also discuss the consequences of Russia’s accession to the WTO

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MOSCOW, December 15 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia’s position will be presented at the summit by President Dmitry Medvedev who arrived in the Belgian capital on Wednesday, December 14.

The EU delegation will be led by Presidential of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

“The meeting will be absolutely pragmatic in nature,” the Kremlin said. “By building up our cooperation we help increase stability in Europe. This is how we regard our interaction – as an additional contribution that helps all of us overcome existing financial difficulties.”

The leaders will also be invited to a roundtable discussion of European and Russian entrepreneurs. Medvedev is expected to speed and participate in discussions. At the end, entrepreneurs will present their recommendations that should facilitate trade relations. RUSNANO Head Anatoly Chubais has been invited to moderate the discussion.

Presidential aide Sergei Prikhodko told journalists at a special briefing that a road map would be adopted at the summit in order to facilitate visa-free travel between Russia and the EU.

“A transition to visa-free travel for short-term trips will undoubtedly be one of the key topics at the summit. The Russian side believes that progress in this respect will facilitate cooperation on all aspects of relations between Russia and the EU,” the aide said.

Negotiators have drafted joint steps towards visa-free travel, which links it to migration flows and protection of human rights and basic freedoms as well as supremacy of law.

“We are very much concerned over migration flows in the EU. This wording was worked out together. We offered it. It would not have been adopted without Russia’s consent,” Prikhodko said.

The summiteers will also discuss the consequences of Russia’s accession to the WTO for further intensification of trade and economic relations between Russia and the EU, including negotiations on a new basic agreement, paying special attention to the implementation of the Partnership for Modernisation initiative designed to strengthen the innovation component of RF-EU business ties.

Moscow appreciates the EU’s support in the drawn-out talks on Russia’s accession to the WTO and understands its desire to make sure that a new basic agreement reflects a broader vision for trade and investment cooperation than the WTO rules allow.

“We understand their desire and work will continue,” the official said.

“One of the key topics for discussion is energy cooperation,” he said. “Russia is a time-tested supplier of energy resources to Europe. But apart from serious successes, such as the commissioning of the first stage of the Nord Stream pipeline in November, there are questions that require prompt joint attention. Both sides have the necessary dialogue mechanisms for resolving each other’s concerns.”

“As for interaction on pressing international issues, a great deal of attention will be paid to the financial and economic situation in the euro zone,” Prikhodko said. “EU countries are the biggest trade and investment partners of Russia. Trade turnover between Russia and the EU in the first nine months of this year had reached 286.4 billion U.S. dollars (an increase of 31.4 percent from the same period of 2010), export had amounted to 195.2 billion U.S. dollars (up 27.7 percent) and import 91.2 billion U.S. dollars (up 40 percent). The EU accounts for about 50 percent of Russia’s foreign trade. Russia is the third largest partner of the European Union after the United States and China,” he said.

The euro makes up 41 percent of Russia’s foreign exchange reserves. “In this connection, close coordination and joint development of measures are needed for preventing a new wave of a global financial and economic crisis, including in with due account for the results of the G-20 Summit in Cannes on October 3-4,” the aide said.

International topics to be raised at the summit include international security, the situation in Syria, Libya and the Middle East, Iran’s nuclear programme, Kosovo, the South Caucasus, and Transdniestria.

“Russia’s principled stance on conflict resolution is based on unconditional supremacy of international law and the central coordinating role of the U.N. and its Security Council,” Prikhodko said.

Russia-EU summits are held twice a year in order to review cooperation in the past period and determine priorities for the future.

The Russian delegation will include Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Prikhodko and presidential aide Arklady Dvorkovich, Russian Permanent Representative to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov, Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov, Minister of Economic Development Elvira Nabiullina, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko who oversees relations with the EU, and Mark Entin, Director of the European Studies Institute at the MGIMO Moscow State Institute of International Relations.


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