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Lavrov to discuss preps for Russia-EU summit, situation in Ukraine with Ashton and EU FMs

December 16, 2013, 4:11 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, December 16, 2:28 /ITAR-TASS/. Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov is due to arrive in Brussels on Monday for a brief visit to have a traditional lunch with the Foreign ministers of the European Union (EU). Lavrov will have a separate meeting with Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

During the upcoming talks and meetings the sides are expected to devote special attention to matters aimed at preparing a Russia-EU summit, scheduled for the end of January next and at promoting visa-free arrangements for people's travel, and to energy cooperation.

An official at Russia's Foreign Ministry pointed out that participants in the talks would also exchange views on the Iran issue and the situation concerning Syria. "The sides will discuss the situation in Ukraine as well," the Ministry official added.

Vytautas Leskevicius, Deputy Foreign Minister of Lithuania, which now presides over the EU Council, took heed to emphasize that during the talks in Brussels Sergei Lavrov would be told about "inadmissibility of putting pressure to bear on Ukraine".

Earlier, Vladimir Chizhov, Permanent Representative of the RF at the EU, had commented in an Itar-Tass interview on numerous pronouncements by European leaders about "Russia's pressure". He drew attention to the fact that in this case it remains to liken the EU actions with regard to Kiev "only to steamrolling".

Throughout the discussion on the subject, Russia kept emphasizing that a solution to the issue of signing or not signing an Association Agreement with the EU is Ukraine's sovereign choice," Chizhov recalled. "Whereas the EU preferred holding talks with Kiev in a peremptory mood: Ukraine should do this, adopt such and such laws, and effect the following (suggested) reforms. I leave alone the unbridled propaganda campaign in the European media".

On November 21, Ukraine's Cabinet of Ministers suspended preparations for signing an Association Agreement with the EU, which was intended for approval at the Vilnius summit on Nov. 28-29. The government also ordered to resume an active dialogue with Russia and other member-countries of the Customs Union (EU) and members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) about revitalising trade-and-economic contacts with a view to keeping and strengthening the economic potential through joint efforts. Kiev sggested creating a format of trilateral talks with the EU and Russia on the development of balanced relations. The decision produced a bombshell effect in Europe and fully disoriented the EU establishment.

On December 12, at a new round of talks in Brussels, Ukraine and the European Commission agreed to hold talks on implementing a roadmap for signing an Agreement on Association and a Free Trade Area bilaterally, without Russia's participation. Nevertheless, the dialogue was suspended again.

A diplomatic source told ltar-Tass that the EU is discontended with the lack of a "substantive position" of Kiev and with the "unfounded demands" for compensations.

The source said, "Ukraine should agree with EU demands while all the so-called compensations for the loss of trading contacts with third countries are only a short-lived and insignificant factor compared to the strategic perspective of free trade with the EU".

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