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Russia's EU ambassador previews crucial summit

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Russia's EU ambassador previews crucial summit

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The EU-Russia summit to be held in Samara this week is likely to be one of the most difficult such bilateral meetings since the end of the Cold War. There are many contentious areas between Moscow and Brussels, including the status of Kosovo, energy supplies, Russia’s ban on Polish meat and human rights.

EuroNews spoke to Russia’s ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chichov about the various issues.

Sergio Cantone, EuroNews:
“The topics of the summit are really related to the most important topics of the international agenda: for instance the Kosovo issue will be raised and this is something where the EU and Russia don’t share the same views7;”

Vladimir Chizhov, Russian Ambassador to the EU:
“I don5;t think I can share your opinion that the EU has a clear position on Kosovo, that would be a bit of an overstatement. But we do have a difference of views as far as the tactics of Kosovo settlement are concerned.”

EuroNews:
“What do you mean by tactics, because this is not a matter of tactics, isn’t it strategies?”

Chichov:
“I would say the strategy is something we share: we want to have a peaceful stable democratic multi-ethnic Kosovo, that is the base line for both, the Russian approach and the EU approach and everybody else. How to achieve that? We believe that only a negotiated solution will be a viable one otherwise an imposed solution will simply not work.”

EuroNews:
“Do you think that Belgrade and Moscow could agree also to the independence of Kosovo, at the end of such a process?”

Chichov:
“There are many ways. We are actively working, it5;s not that Russia is, you know, sitting back and saying no independence and forget it, we frankly see no reason for the international community to hurry towards a quick solution. It5;s too complicated for anybody to afford a quick-fix.”

EuroNews:
“Is the Ahtissari plan dead?”

Chichov:
“Well dead or alive, it is not the best possible basis for a solution of Kosovo.”

EuroNews:
“Let5;s say that it5;s badly injured, so7;”

Chichov:
“Well, I would say that perhaps people involved in this settlement should seek a better option.”

EuroNews:
“Another issue on the EU-Russia agenda is the energy issue, which is directly related to the PCA, the partnership agreement, which has not been signed yet7;”

Chichov:
“The negotiations have been unable to start so far because of a veto imposed by one member state on approving the negotiating mandate for the European Commission, which will be our counterpart during those negotiations.”

EuroNews:
But how can you imagine to have a comprehensive agreement like this one, like the PCA, when there5;s a ban on some products coming from a member state of the EU?

Chichov:
“That ban is fully justified, and both the European Commission and Polish authorities are quite aware of that. The real problem is not Polish meat as such, it5;s not a problem of meat produced by Polish farmers, the problem is an inadequate control mechanism existing in Poland as in some other countries. This is partially an institutional problem for the whole of the European Union, because the EU is constructed in a way to protect it-self from anything hazardous entering the EU market; so controls are focused on imports into the EU and they are much more lax on whatever leaves (is exported from) the EU.”

EuroNews:
“All the member states are more interested in having a good relationship with Russia because, there are energy problems. Do you think that something new could happen as far as energy is concerned at Samara?”

Chichov:
“Well, energy dialogue is an important element of the overall Russia-EU relations, but when we talk about energy security it5;s a comprehensive notion, which includes security of supplies, security of demand and, in between, security of transit.

EuroNews:
“There are countries which are ready to open their markets to Russian operators, such as Gazprom and other important prominent oil and gas companies. Do you think that a more clear idea, from the EU, on this point could ease the way for Russia to ratify the energy charter?”

Chichov:
“Energy is a very specific sector of the economy which requires huge investments and long-term investments and, you know, basing it just on liberalisation may not lead to the expected results in terms of prices for the consumers. I believe that we should actually look into the future in this respect rather than backwards to the energy charter treaty, there are certain principles that may be agreed and reflected in the future Russia/EU treaty of strategic partnership, some of them reflecting the principles of the energy charter, others perhaps more advanced, rather than trying to go in circles around that particular document, which already I would say belongs to a different era.”