Javier Solana: Russia is not the most difficult partner

Today, the first meeting of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with the leading trio of the European Union will take place in the Irish capital of Dublin. A number of the observers believe that relations between Moscow and the European Union have entered "another stage of crisis" on the eve of its expansion. EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana gave his own assessment of this position in an interview with the Russian Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

He believes that Russia is not an especially difficult partner. Relations between Moscow and Brussels are developing in a broad range of issues: from trade and energy to cooperation in the international arena. With such contacts, differences on some problems are quite natural - after all, important interests are at stake.

Being good and close neighbours, noted Mr. Solana, we have always been trying to overcome the differences, because both we and you are convinced of the strategic nature of our relations.

As far as I know, the High Representative of the EU said, there was no question of conflict between the EU and Russia. Brussels has given its own assessment of the relations with Russia and come to the conclusion that they are very important and will be even more important after the expansion of the European Union. We are talking about guarantees that these relations will continue to be based on the firm foundation of mutual interests and common values, will develop in a balanced way and to a mutual advantage. I look with optimism into the near future and at the meeting in Dublin, in particular, underscored Mr. Solana. He expressed the hope that the results of the meeting would be good and give a new impetus to the Russia-EU relations.

Answering the question on how does the EU plan to solve the problem of extending the agreement on partnership and cooperation with its new members Mr. Solana said that he hopes for the earliest achievement of consensus on this score. He has admitted that Russia had legitimate grounds for worries and that they were discussed in a favourable way, he remarked.

In conclusion of the interview, Mr. Solana pointed out that the European Union had passed a long path of forming a common foreign and security policy. All the member-countries of the European Union understand that they can achieve the greatest success in advancing their interests and values in the international arena only when they act together and express their views from common positions. This also concerns the relations with Russia, which are strategically important for the European Union.

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