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EU envoy: EC summit’s document on Ukraine adds nothing new to relations with Russia

March 07, 2014, 5:30 UTC+3 BRUSSELS

According to Vladimir Chizhov, formulation of this document "are unfair and unacceptable"

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© ITAR-TASS/Ruslan Shamukov

BRUSSELS, March 07,  /ITAR-TASS/. The contents of the European Council’s final document that emerged from Thursday’s discussion of the Ukrainian crisis have proved well-expected, Russia’s EU envoy Vladimir Chizhov told Russian media in Brussels following Thursday’s special summit of the EC.

“As a matter of fact, at the summit level, at the level of heads of state and government, we heard a repetition of what the foreign ministers had already approved last Monday,” Chizhov said. He described the European summit’s decision as “three freezes”.

A freeze on the dialogue over visas is one.

“As a person who has a direct bearing on the subject I can only shrug in surprise. That dialogue was frozen by the European Union a long while ago. In practice we have heard nothing new.”

Freeze number two is that on negotiations on a new base agreement.

“It’s all the same again. Although some sluggish process had been going on, at this point the ball is in the European Union’s court. Let me remind you, before the January summit of Russia and the EU, the last one, we had suggested using that opportunity to give a political impetus and accelerate the negotiating process. The European Union then preferred to stay evasive and to propose a postponement till the summer summit. It remains to be seen for how long this freeze will last.”

Chizhov recalled it was far from the first attempt by Russia’s European partners to use this negotiating process as a sort of political leverage.

“That is senseless, because if somebody thinks that we need these talks and a new base agreement more than the European Union does, then that person is fundamentally wrong,” Chizhov said.

The third freeze is the suspension of preparations for the G8 summit in Sochi.

“It is common knowledge that the European Union is in fact a ninth member of the G8. This is precisely the reason why they came up with this sort of decision. Any activity within the G8, let alone the group’s presidency, is not a privilege, but a heavy burden and great responsibility. Each annual presidency (Russian this year) implies tens and even hundreds of activities of various levels, formats and themes. The current intention to give less time for preparations for the summit by suspending this work will yield nothing good,” Chizhov said.

“Even if our partner’s efforts postpone or disrupt the summit, Russia will be able to carry on, I am pretty certain about that,” Chizhov said. “In any case - and at this point I would like to express my personal opinion - Ukraine and the settlement of the political crisis in that country are a far more important task for us.”

The sole new aspect that Chizhov noticed in the final document of the European Council’s summit was the decision to split up the notorious association agreement, which after the Ukrainian leadership’s refusal to sign it triggered unrest in Kiev.

“In a gesture addressed to the current authorities in Kiev - illegitimate ones, one has to remember that - the European Union decided to sign only the political section of the agreement with them. Let me remind you that the agreement itself is over a thousand pages long. The substantive, economic part has been postponed until after the elections and, apparently, until the emergence of a more legitimate or, in any case, more responsible government,” the senior Russian diplomat said.

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