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Poland holds up EU-Russia partnership talks

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Poland holds up EU-Russia partnership talks

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Talks on a new partnership deal between the European Union and Russia are being held up – by EU member Poland. The 25-nation bloc wants to present a united front ahead of a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin later this month. But Warsaw is brandishing its veto in protest at an ongoing Russian ban on Polish food imports. It also wants commitments from Moscow on energy supplies.

Accusing Russia of using energy and trade restrictions as political tools, Polish Foreign Minister Anna Fotyga said: “There should be no surprise that we are using the tools we have at our disposal.”

The European Union needs unanimity to agree on a mandate for the talks. But Russia’s ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, said he was not surprised by the Polish veto.

“We warned our partners in the European Union of the possible difficulties they might face after the EU’s expansion, two years ago,” he said.

A new partnership pact would replace an existing deal due to expire in a year’s time. With Russia supplying over 25 percent of the EU’s energy, the Europeans see a fresh deal with Moscow as crucial.