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Russia’s ban on Lithuanian dairy products may affect visa dialogue with EU

October 10, 2013, 11:09 UTC+3

The European Commission may launch an investigation against Russia’s actions in the World Trade Organization

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On Thursday Russia’s Federal Customs Service will lift toughened customs control on the border with Lithuania at the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s instruction. However, Russia’s ban on the import of dairy products from the Baltic state remains effective. The European Union has already interfered into the row. The European Commission may launch an investigation against Russia’s actions in the World Trade Organization.

The European Commission told the Kommersant business daily that Lithuania’s food products were “high-quality and safe” and Russia provided no proof that this information did not correspond to reality. Brussels expresses confidence that the thing is in confrontation between Russia and Lithuania over the upcoming summit of Eastern Partnership in Vilnius and rapprochement of some post-Soviet states with the EU. The row may exert negative effects on other aspects of Russia-EU relations, mainly on their visa dialogue, the daily writes.

The conflict may have far-ranging consequences, Kommersant’s diplomatic sources in Brussels and in Vilnius were quoted as saying. The European Union expresses confidence that the thing is not in bacteria, but in politics.

In 2007, Russia and the EU failed to develop a new cooperation agreement (this has not been done yet) over a trade war with Poland and political discrepancies with Lithuania, the daily recalls. Now a threat can be posed to their visa dialogue. Russia and the European Union were expected to sign an agreement on easier visa rules at their summit in June, but had not done this. Russian diplomatic sources hoped to promptly remove remaining disagreements, mainly concerning technicalities, to seal the deal by the Russia-EU summit in December. However, now the chances for making a breakthrough may reduce.

Kommersant writes that the recent meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton in New York has not clarified the issue and proceeded in a cool atmosphere. A date for a meeting of the Russia-EU Permanent Partnership Council that should precede the summit has not been named yet.

The Vedomosti newspaper writes that many countries use asymmetric measures of pressure through trade. Europe exerts pressure on the United States, and the United States - on Europe, while China from time to time threatens to stop buying something from both of them. Not only written rules are applied in trade and politics, the daily says. The value of such measures is in their originality and accuracy of application. When trade bans become a standard reaction to any irritant, these measures lose their sharpness. 

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