Russia-EU summit to strengthen political dialogue

The Russia-European Union summit, scheduled to be held in Moscow on May 17, is to promote the deepening of political dialogue between the sides, said Russian Vice Premier Viktor Khristenko at a meeting with a delegation of the Russia-EU Parliamentary Cooperation Committee. Participants in the meeting were the committee's co-chairmen, Vladimir Lukin and Konstantin Krel. Khristenko noted that the Russia-European Union political dialogue is ongoing. The second top topic at the summit, believes the Russian vice premier, will be prospects for strengthening the sides' cooperation in the energy sector. In Khristenko's view, dialogue in this area between Russia and the European Union is to ensure Europe's strategic energy security for at least 20 years to come. Khristenko stressed that as a supplier of natural gas, Russia in its more than 25 years of cooperation with Europe has not once let down European partners or wrecked gas supplies. In recent years, Russia has even shouldered all risks emerging in this sphere, even if they were not directly connected with the Russian side. The Russian vice premier also described economic cooperation as a serious factor in relations between Russia and the European Union. According to him, countries of the European Union today account for 35 percent of Russia's foreign trade turnover. Taking into consideration the countries that are ready to join the European Union, this figure increases to 51 percent. Khristenko said that Russia is interested in the EU being its permanent partner in trade. At the same time, he admitted, there are certain problems in trade relations between the sides, such as anti-dumping measures taken by European countries with regard to Russian steel exports, as well as barriers on the way of alcoholic beverages from Europe to Russia. The current period in relations between Russia and the European Union is the most "active," added Khristenko.

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