MOSCOW, April 21. /TASS/. Russia is ready to resume cooperation with the EU and expects a substantive discussion during the April 24 working visit to Moscow of High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
The visit will be held upon the invitation of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. During the talks, Lavrov and Mogherini will consider key aspects of bilateral relations and also vital issues of international agenda, the ministry said.
The relations between Russia and the EU are going through tough times now and "the main irritant is the EU’s placing its stake on continuing the sanctions pressure on Russia," it said. "Anti-Russian sentiment is actively fueled in the EU and there are unfounded accusations against us of seeking to weaken the EU and influence elections in some member-states."
"For our part, we consider that there is the need to overcome the remaining differences," it said. Moscow seeks a stable, predictable and independent EU, which remains its key trade and economic partner, accounting for almost 45% of Russia’s foreign trade, the ministry said. "We are ready for full-fledged resumption and actively maintaining channels of cooperation with the EU in various areas."
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The ministry noted that despite the lack of political dialogue and the EU’s initiative to freeze official formats of dialogue, cooperation still continues in a whole range of areas. "The first positive changes are already seen and prospects for mutually beneficial joint cooperation have emerged."
The examples are regular bilateral talks on countering terrorism and organized crime and regional partnership, including implementation of a program of cross-border cooperation in 2014-2020.
"We expect a substantive discussion on the ways of restoring cooperation with the EU," the ministry stressed. "We are ready to build up a mutually beneficial relationship with the EU and its member-states based on equality, respect for national interests and objective interdependence of economies due to territorial proximity and complementarity."
Ukrainian crisis is main center of controversy
The international issues on the agenda are the situation in Ukraine, in the Western Balkans, Syria, Iraq, Libya, the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal and the Middle East settlement.
The Ukrainian crisis remains the main center of controversy between Moscow and Brussels, the Foreign Ministry said. "We hope that the European Union will stop ignoring Kiev’s unwillingness to fulfill its obligations under the Minsk agreements, particularly concerning the political settlement, and will pay attention to the manifestations of aggressive nationalism, violations of the freedom of speech and the rights of journalists in Ukraine," the statement reads.
Moscow is also concerned over the unstable situation in the Western Balkans and the lack of progress in the EU-facilitated Dialogue Belgrade-Pristina. "We believe that the attempts to meddle in the domestic affairs of sovereign states and rethinking the outcome of expression of will by citizens are unacceptable."
In regard to the Syrian settlement, Russia believes that the EU as a major humanitarian donor has a moral responsibility that should rule out links between assistance and political demands and preconditions.
"Balanced prioritizing is needed on the humanitarian situation in Iraq and Yemen," the ministry said. "We note the importance of making political process in Libya inclusive. We see that Russia and the EU have close approaches to the issues of the Palestinian-Israeli settlement. We are ready to continue "synchronizing watches" on the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (on Iran)."
Single economic and humanitarian space
"An efficient tool for leading the relations between Russia and the EU out of the current condition could be moving towards forming a common economic and humanitarian space from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean," the ministry said.
Russia believes this is the most promising project for ensuring long-term and sustainable development of the entire Eurasian continent, and it may become an efficient tool for overcoming the current crisis in relations between Russia and the EU.
"An economic basis for such a long-term project may be first of all the development of cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Union and the EU," the ministry said, noting that establishing dialogue here could help building a vast zone of stability and peace in Eurasia.