On the eve of the EU’s first summit with new Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Brussels has said the bloc wants to pursue a “partnership of equals”. Moscow wants priorities such as political and energy cooperation set out in a pact ‘without too much detail’.
Launching talks on a new cooperation agreement was held up for a year and a half by Polish and then Lithuanian opposition. In an interview this week, Medvedev acknowledged that practical dealings were sometimes complicated with the EU.
He said: “Of course, there are sometimes problems in our relationship, when we understand that some EU governments are ready to develop the relationship by taking certain steps, but at the same time one or a few governments are able to block these steps.”
External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said the EU is seeking a pact that would be “a backbone for a comprehensive mutual agreement and engagement”. She defended the bloc’s particular way of working as productive and cohesive.
She said: “The European Union is very special sui generis institution where every country indeed cedes some sovereignty. But I think we have achieved quite a lot. It takes some time, a little more time to do it, like for the mandate, that is true, but once you have a mandate, and we the Commission now has a mandate to negotiate a very comprehensive, a very broad and deep agreement, then, we are ready to go and there we do speak with one voice.”
The two sides are due to launch talks on the pact at the two-day summit in the Siberian region of Khanty-Mansiysk. The Commissioner also said Europe would seek security of investment for its companies in a rule-based society. This appeared to refer to EU energy interests facing pressure to yield control of Russian assets.