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MOSCOW, February 18 /Itar-Tass/. Russia has never aimed at competing with the European Union for spheres of influence, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said tuesday, commenting on an article written by Catherine Ashton.
In the article published in the Russian daily Kommersant newspaper Ashton, EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, suggested moving on step by step and fulfilling all the obligations assumed.
“We strongly stand for it too. Therefore, our attitude to further liberalization of Russia’s trade with the EU is also predetermined by a desire to move slowly step by step”, said Lavrov.
“First of all, we want to improve our country’s economy, agriculture, industry and service sector by making them more competitive and only then shall we be able to start trade liberalization talks with the EU as practically equal partners,” said the minister.
Lavrov added that Ashton also stood against competition for areas of influence.
“Nor have we ever supported the idea of creating such influence areas”, stressed Lavrov.
The Russian foreign minister characterised Ashton’s article as positively-oriented in general. “It correlates with our own ideas regarding Russia’s relations with the EU. The article practically reflects the strategy of our relations with Europe, so Katrin Ashton can be called our strategic partner”, concluded Lavrov.