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MINSK, October 10. /TASS/. Russia is not opposed to rapprochement with the European Union, but is calling for an open and timely discussion of the consequences of such steps, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday.
“We have never been the opponents of rapprochement with the EU, and we seek closer ties ourselves,” Putin said at the summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in Minsk, adding that the conditions of the rapprochement are a vital issue.
“The problems are created not in connection with the retaliatory and protective measures of the Russian Federation, but because our partners do not believe it is necessary to timely, openly and professionally discuss in detail all the risks arising for Russia’s economy and other countries of the Commonwealth (of Independent States) in regard to the norms of free-trade zone norms after the accession of our colleagues to other trade and economic formations,” Putin said.
The Russian president said if such a discussion had been held on time, there “would have been no problems.” This also relates to the former Soviet states of Moldova and Ukraine, Putin added.
Moscow is ready to work on harmonizing documents signed by the CIS countries with the European Union, within the legal framework of the Commonwealth, although this is “not an easy task,” Putin said.
“We are ready to work on solving this not to lose the partnership relations in the framework of the Commonwealth,” Putin said, adding that a similar approach was taken during the negotiations between Ukraine and the EU.
“And where was Moldova, why could not we build such relations with Moldova?” Putin asked. “We wanted and have repeatedly requested this. But unfortunately, our Moldovan friends gave us no clear answer,” he added.
Speaking on the role of the CIS, a loose alliance of the former Soviet states, the Russian leader stressed that it unites Russia’s closest partners and is a “key tool for strengthening good neighborly and mutually beneficial ties on the post-Soviet space.”
Putin said he is in general satisfied with the development rates of the Commonwealth, although adding that they “do not fully reflect the unique resources, demographic and transit potential of the region.”
In particular, Putin said that the trade volume within the CIS plunged by 9% in the first six months of the year to $111 billion. He said this is mainly explained by an unfavorable foreign environment and a shift in economic priorities of some members of the Commonwealth.