вторник, 11 ноября 2008 г.

EU AND RUSSIA EQUALLY INTERESTED IN SIGNING AGREEMENT


The European Union finally decided to resume talks with Russia on a new agreement on strategic partnership. The statement was made on Monday by the French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in the wake of EU Council session of foreign ministers.

A pause at talks was no fault of Moscow. The developments in the Caucasus were a kind of test for relations between EU and Russia. Early this autumn the European Commission initiated a curtailment of the dialogue started in June. The West waited for Russia to comply with the Medvedev-Sarkozy agreement to settle the situation in the Caucasus.

Moscow took a balanced attitude to the situation. Without any rush but in keeping with the schedule it withdrew its troops from the Georgian territory and handed over those zones for monitoring of EU observers. Even such opponents of the talks with Russia as Sweden and Great Britain favoured a resumption of the dialogue. True, they made reservations about the need of tough line in relations with Moscow. All this rhetoric is rather home affair of West Europeans. The previous agreement expired in the end of 2007 and was automatically extended, so there can be no talk about a vacuum in relations. In addition, Moscow made it clear more than once that it is prepared to return to negotiating table as soon as a consensus is reached inside united Europe. The Russian Foreign Ministry believes that Europe needs agreement with Russia no less than Russia wants an agreement with EU. In an interview with the Voice of Russia expert on the problems of Europe Nadezhda Arbatova explains this stance in the following way:

The fact the talks will be resumed on a new agreement is a major development which proves that the European Union finally realized that not only Russia but EU, too, needs such an agreement. Stability in the post-Soviet space is impossible without integration of Russia and EU in the sphere of security. This gives rise to a cautious optimism for the resumption of the dialogue.

The date for a new round of the talks will be specified at a Russia-EU summit in Nice on November 14. Though there is still one opponent to the talks among the European countries, Lithuania, common understanding of the importance of the dialogue prevails. What is more, Bernard Kouchner warned that if united Europe failed to agree with Russia, Russia could come to terms with some of EU states, and this is what EU higher bodies fear most. One cannot but agree with the EU High Representative on Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana who yesterday said that a framework agreement with Russia would be better than relations beyond any framework.

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