Before May 2004 Russia hopes to revise agreements with EU-threshold countries

Moscow hopes that before May 1, 2004 it will revise bilateral agreement with countries joining the European Union. "Very many agreements" are to be revised, a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry has said to RIA Novosti.

The expansion of the European Union will entail serious consequences for Russia, said the source. For instance, the EU countries' share in Russia's foreign trade turnover is now 37 percent. After another ten countries join the EU, the share will reach 51 percent.

Entry into the EU will set a range of new obligations before its new members. Some of these obligations contradict the existing agreements with Russia.

One is quotas on the export of Russian steel, aluminum export duties, conditions surrounding farm products and mineral fertilizer supplies. In talks with the European Union, Russia actively raises these problems, the non-spread of antidumping processes and the rules of regulation of gas and oil markets to the EU new members.

The position of Moscow is that the expansion of the EU "should not lead to the curtailment of trade and economic cooperation with the new members, raise additional barriers between Russia and the EU", the spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry has said. To him, Moscow is going to make use of all the advantages relative to the EU expansion and simultaneously "preserve all the positive aspects accumulated in bilateral relations" with the EU new members.

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