Summary: EU-Russia Foreign Ministers Troika meeting (14 February 2006: Brussels)
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Commissioner for External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, will participate in an EU-Russia Foreign Ministers Troika in Vienna on 15 February, together with Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik and Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja. The Russian side will be represented by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Nearly a year after the EU and Russia agreed road maps for 4 “common spaces”, the Troika meeting is an opportunity to give new impetus to the implementation of the spaces before the Russia Summit in Sochi in May. Discussions are also expected to focus on international issues such as Ukraine, Moldova, South Caucasus, the Middle East, Iran, the Western Balkans and Belarus.
Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner said: “The EU and Russia are increasing their cooperation on the international stage: Russia is a valued partner in the Middle East Quartet, and is playing a constructive role in the search for a diplomatic solution on the Iranian nuclear question. We should aim for equally close cooperation on other sources of instability closer to home, and I look forward to discussing developments in the South Caucasus ahead of my visit to the region later in the week”.
She added: “This will be a first opportunity to discuss energy issues with our Russia partners since the gas disputes at the beginning of the year. While the EU relies on substantial energy imports from Russia, it is also true that the Union is Russia’s biggest customer – so that EU-Russia energy relations are of strategic importance to both sides. This needs to be given a higher profile in our partnership. I will be explaining that the Commission’s forthcoming Green paper on energy will aim to give much sharper focus to the external dimension of our energy policies”.
In Moscow in May 2005, the EU and Russia agreed on road maps for four common spaces: Common Economic Space; Common Space on freedom, security and justice; common space on external security; common space on research and education including cultural aspects. Ministerial meetings between the EU and Russia are planned in the coming months on justice and home affairs, implementation of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change and on transport, to carry forward work under the common spaces in the different fields.
While some good first steps have been taken towards implementation of the road maps, it is important that the rhythm of work should now accelerate, so that this work programme can deliver real benefits for citizens of both the EU and Russia.
Issues concerning regions adjacent to the EU and Russian borders remain at the centre of EU-Russia discussions. The Troika will review the situation in Ukraine and Belarus in the light of the forthcoming elections in these countries. The EU will express its concern over the lack of progress on Transnistria, and review the situation relating to certain conflicts in the South Caucasus notably South Ossetia as well as Nagorno-Karabakh in light of the recent Rambouillet talks between the Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents.
As usual in meetings with Russia, the EU side will underline the importance it attaches to human rights and fundamental freedoms, in line with the commitments Russia has entered into in the Council of Europe and the OSCE.
The meeting will also be an occasion to exchange views on the approach to be taken to the future framework for EU-Russia relations as we approach the end of the initial ten-year period of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.
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