Brussels to host yet another Russia - EU summit

Bilateral institutional contacts between Russia and the European Union are determined by the June 1994 partnership-and-cooperation agreement, which was signed by EU-country leaders and by the president of the Russian Federation on Corfu island.

Russia - EU summits take place twice a year; Moscow, the capital of Russia, hosts the first summit somewhere over the January-June period. Meanwhile, the capital of a country, which presides in the EU, is supposed to host the second summit. The EU is represented at these summits by the leader of a country, which presides in the EU, a European Commission member responsible for foreign contacts, as well as by the EU's high commissioner for common foreign and security policy. The President of Russia, as well as Russian Ministers responsible for specific aspects of Russia - EU cooperation, take part in each summit.

Cologne hosted yet another EU summit in June 1999, with its delegates approving a collective strategy for coordinating efforts in the field of cooperation with non-EU countries. Russia became the program's first member. The strategy's main goals are as follows - the supremacy of law, expanding Russia's democracy and market economy, as well as EU - Russia cooperation for the sake of maintaining European stability and global security. Each country, which presides in the EU (in line with the rotation principle), submits its own working plan for translating this strategy into life (that is, in line with the political and economic situation).

For its own part, the Russian Federation endorsed a mid-term strategy for expanding relations between the Russian Federation and the EU over the 2000-2010 period October 22nd, 1999. This document, which sets forth specific goals of expanded Russia - EU relations over the coming decade, is a logical continuation of Russia's overall foreign-policy concept for Europe. The strategy aims to forge and enhance Russia - EU partnership in common European and global affairs, to jointly prevent and settle local European conflicts (in line with international law and the non-use of force, first and foremost). The document pre-supposes the creation of a united Europe devoid of any demarcation lines, also envisaging an inter-linked and well-balanced policy that would enhance Russian and EU positions within the framework of the 21-st century international community.

The document charts the following top-priority tasks:

-- ensuring strategic Russia - EU partnership;

-- expanding the political-dialogue format;

-- heeding Russia's interests during the EU's expansion;

-- science-and-technical and financial cooperation;

-- the mutual development of trade and investment;

-- protecting intellectual-property rights.

The threat of international terrorism necessitates more active Russia - EU anti-terrorist and security-related cooperation, as well as a faster implementation of specific plans for establishing a common law-enforcement infrastructure. Russia - EU interaction in the judicial-system field, as well as that between our respective interior ministries, which aims to forge stable anti-terrorist mechanisms and those for coping with trans-border crime, has become particularly topical. In this connection, Moscow hosted regular talks involving Russia's Interior and Justice Ministers, as well as the EU Big Three, i.e. Sweden, Belgium and the European Commission's president, November 5th. The Russian Interior Ministry and Interpol would be expected to sign an agreement in the foreseeable future.

The recognition of Russia's market-economy status is a major problem, which has finally been solved on the summit's threshold. European Commission president Romano Prodi made a statement at the May 2002 EU - Russia summit in Moscow; Prodi's statement proved decisive for recognizing Russia's market-economy status. Additional steps were subsequently taken for the sake of formalizing this decision and bringing EU documents in conformity with it. In November 2002, the EU officially recognized the market-economy status of the Russian Federation. Officials in Brussels announced the enactment of specific amendments to the EU's anti-dumping and anti-subsidy legislation. Russia thus ranks among those specific countries, whose market-economy status is recognized by the EU. The new EU legislation will be used to examine all trade disputes arising after November 8, 2002. From now on, Russia will be perceived on a par with other market-economy countries in the course of anti-dumping investigations.

The status of Kaliningrad region has to be defined at this stage, constituting yet another important issue. The sides failed to hammer out an agreement during the previous session in Moscow (May 2002). The Russian Federation's proposal on establishing a transit corridor for automobile-and-railroad traffic via Lithuanian territory and into the Kaliningrad region wasn't accepted. EU representatives suggested that Kaliningrad-region residents obtain multiple Schengen visas for travelling to mainland Russia and vice versa. However, this proposal violates the Russian Federation's sovereignty over its entire territory.

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