Khanty Mansiysk welcomes European Union officials! The Russian oil boom town is hosting a summit to inaugurate talks on a new long-term cooperation agreement. Diplomats say the mood is courteous. This is new Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s first EU-Russia summit. Major breakthroughs are not expected.
Medvedev has said he is interested in a “serious” pact with the EU, also that his country “defines itself as part of Europe”. Well, the venue chosen to discuss this is on the Western-Siberian plain 2,900 kilometers the other side of Moscow.
Euronews asked the Russian ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, to name some of Moscow’s concerns. Chizhov said: “… The obligation to observe international law, the obligation to respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the obligation not to engage in some sort of hostile activities against each other.”
Russia’s distaste over Kosovo’s independence claim may be reflected in those remarks, and EU dealings with ex-Soviet states. Also, the EU wants more access to Russia’s energy sector, while Russia is counter-demanding better access for its companies to European markets.