German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said a deal to form closer ties with six former Soviet republics is not directed against Russia.
Launched in Prague on Thursday, the partnership aims to promote democratic reform and forge closer economic and energy links with the EU’s eastern neighbours.
Attempting to reassure Moscow, Merkel said the EU was not muscling in on its turf.
‘‘This Eastern Partnership is not against anyone, not against Russia. It enforces the coherence of the member countries of the Eastern Partnership with the European Union and we hope, also, among each other,’‘ she said.
The EU is to follow up the partnership with another energy summit later today with eight of its southern and eastern neighbours. Its aim is to open up an energy corridor through the long-planned Nabucco pipeline. It will bypass Russia and deliver an alternative natural gas supply route from the Caspian sea.
The EU is keen to avoid a repeat of last winter’s cut-off of gas supplies to Western Europe following a trade dispute between Russia and Ukraine.