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Russia-EU summit discusses Syria, visa barriers

June 05, 2013, 12:41 UTC+3

Russia and the EU failed the sign the agreement on streamlined visa procedure which had been announced earlier

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Yekaterinburg hosted the Russia-EU summit on Tuesday. The parties summed up certain achievements and problems in their relations. Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the Russian authorities were interested in the soonest signing of the new basic agreement and visa-free travel. The European partners called for it, too, but made certain reservations. At the final news conference, the president was asked questions directly related or unrelated to the summit. It followed from Putin’s' answers that nobody was threatening Russian economist Sergei Guriev if he had not breached the law, and that he would sign the ban on adoption of children by same-sex families if the State Duma /parliament/ approved it.

Russia and the EU failed the sign the agreement on streamlined visa procedure which had been announced earlier, the Novye Izvestia noted. However, both sides showed moderate optimism. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso noted that just several technical points were all that remained and had to be coordinated as of that moment. Russian Ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov specified that "there remains the final move to make." He denied the speculations that the Europeans' refusal to grant free access to the EU to the holders of Russian service passports was linked to the Magnitsky list. "I didn't hear this surname at the summit," Chizhov said.

The main international issue discussed at the summit was the situation in Syria, the newspaper underlined. Vladimir Putin said at the news conference that Russia was disappointed with the EU's decision to lift the embargo on arms supplies to Syria. During the talks, Russia stressed that "any attempts to influence the situation by force or direct military intervention are doomed to failure and would inevitably result in grave humanitarian consequences," according to the Russian leader.

The president also stated that the contract to supply S-300 air defense systems to Syria, signed several years ago, had not been executed yet. He acknowledged that it was one of the best air defense systems in the world, if not the best, and that it was certainly a formidable weapon. "We don't want to upset the balance in the region," the Russian president said.

Putin was asked about the fate of head of the Russian economic school Sergei Guriev, who had been questioned a week before within the framework of the "first Yukos case," the Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. Bewildered, Putin replied, "nobody is ousting him, nobody is driving him out or intimidating. You shouldn't make a problem out of nothing, a problem that does not exist." "Are there any reasons to jail him? I don't know anything about it. It's only lately that I've heard this surname and I don't know if he has committed any wrongdoing." If he has not violated anything, he's 100 percent not threatened by anything," Putin said in comments on prospects for Guriev.

The former rector went to Paris because his wife was working there. "He engages in economic activities. Let him work where he wants and where he likes the most. If he wishes to return, let him return, if he wants to live in Paris, let him live in Paris," the Russian president said.

Putin also said he was tired of fielding questions about same-sex marriages. "We've got my goat," he told the report who had touched upon the subject in connection with Russia's slapping a possible ban on adoption of children by same-sex families for the European countries where such families were legal.

"As for the law on restricting the adoption of Russian children by same-sex families, I have no such bill, I haven't seen it. If the parliament approves such a law, I'll sign it," Putin said, urging all persons - traditional and non-traditional - to tame their aggression. Russia is a tolerant country, no worse that European states, Putin said. "I believe our legislation is quite liberal on this account; there is no discrimination. People of all preferences work here and make their careers. We acknowledge them at the state level for concrete deeds in the fields where they work," the president said as he referred to the sexual minorities situation in the country.

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