Russia-EU relations on the rise

Relations between Russia and the European Union have never been so intensive as in the past months. Viktor Khristenko, vice-premier of Russia, made such a statement on Tuesday at the press conference in Luxemburg held on the results of the fourth session of the Russia-EU Cooperation Council at the level of foreign ministers. Mr Khristenko took part in the session of the Northern Dimension forum at the level of heads of foreign-policy departments. He called the two working days in Luxemburg "rather significant." According to him, these days are a "serious page" in Russia-EU relations. According to Mr Khristenko, the discussions in Luxemburg were held with due regard of preparations for the Russia-EU summit to be held in Moscow on May 17. The range of problems touched upon was rather wide and the sides spoke specifically and pragmatically about economic reforms, investment climate and trade relations, the vice-premier said. Mr Khristenko expressed a hope that such a spirit would be consolidated and serve as a basis for further development of contacts between Russia and the EU. In her turn, Anna Lindh, chairperson of the EU Council, foreign minister of Sweden, the country which currently chair the EU, stated at the press conference that the sides reached an agreement on a large number of issues. The sides also agreed to try to solve the unsettled problems before the Russia-EU summit in Moscow. Specifically, this refers to disagreements on multi-lateral programme for nuclear safety of Russian environment. Chris Patten, EU Commissioner for external relations, also stressed that the EU would like to achieve certain progress on the programme. He said that it would be preferable to make the system of trade dispute regulation within the framework of the Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation to be more effective. According to Mr Patten, this would help Russia to sooner attain the WTO membership.

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