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No progress in EU-EAEU dialogue because of EU’s biasedness — Lavrov

According to the Russian top diplomat, Moscow is interested in an agreement between the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union

MOSCOW, April 27. /TASS/. There is no progress in dialogue between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the European Union because of the latter’s biasedness, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday.

"So far, there is no progress," he said in a video lecture for students of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO).

He recalled that contacts between the two commissions had been established at the initiative of the Eurasian Economic Commission in line with its request issued almost four years ago. No response came for a long time and ultimately the European Commission agreed on cooperation on issues of technical regulations and phytosanitary norms. "I.e. on the matters that are to be agreed to ensure smooth trade and those matters that were delegated to the supranational level in the cases of both us and the European Union," he said, adding that the European colleagues demonstrated a utilitarian approach.

"And we think that it is useful too. At least, it indicates recognition of the realities, recognition of the fact that it is necessary to have contacts with the structures the five post-Soviet nations have established and continue to develop in order to ensure smooth trade, and everyone wants to maintain trade relations," he added.

According to the Russian top diplomat, Moscow is interested in an agreement between the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union. The document, in his words, would set political frames and facilitate trade and economic relations but the key obstacle is "political biasedness and stubborn obsession with the notorious five principles" worded by Federica Mogherini when she was the EU foreign policy chief. "These five principles, as a matter of fact, place further development, normalization and improvement of relations between Russia and the European Union in dependence on the implementation of the Minsk agreements on the Ukrainian crisis," Lavrov said, adding that it is Ukraine that must implement the Minsk accords in direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk.

He also drew attention to the fact that many joint projects had been halted due to the EU’s illegitimate sanctions. Moreover, the West also wants Russia to scale down its relations with the East. "We have already realized that we don’t want to depend on partners, including the EU, who helped boost a number of our industries but proved to be unreliable. So, we have opted for import substitution. But it is unfair to accuse us of turning for the East because the West has imposed sanctions and of more active cooperation with China, India and other Asia Pacific nations," he stressed. "Our position has nothing to do with any resentments."

The minister recalled that at the Russia-ASEAN summit in Sochi back in 2016 Russian President Vladimir Putin had come out with an initiative to forge a bigger Eurasian partnership involving members nations of the EAEU, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), ASEAN states and all other nations of the huge Eurasian continent, including the EU countries.

"We never create anything that would be closed for other countries which are interested in joining it as sharing the charter principles of this or that structure. I can assure you that this greater Eurasian partnership embracing everything I have spoken about, which perfectly correlates with China’s One Belt and One Road initiative, this greater Eurasian partnership will be determining the trends on our continent more and more," Lavrov stressed.

According to the Russian foreign minister, the European Union so far has a "neutral negative" attitude to these concepts.

He recalled the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union and the exit deal. "The new agreements between the United States and the European Union will, probably, be next. And I think, knowing the [US President Donald] Trump administration, the talks are going to be difficult," he presumed. "And to ignore the advantages of our common continent in such conditions, not to use these advantages would mean to deprive oneself, I mean the European Union, of additional possibilities for competition in this highly-competitive world."