Russia-EU summit exposes rifts

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Russia-EU summit exposes rifts

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Europe and Russia are getting on better but still agree to differ. The mood at their joint summit in Khabarovsk was, according to one European official, “not bad” although some issues evidently remain contentious.

Among them is Europe’s ‘Eastern Partnership’ designed to strengthen ties with several former Soviet states. Russian President Dimitri Medvedev laid out Moscow’s concerns: “I would not like this Partnership to consolidate separate countries with anti-Russian feeling, putting them together with other European countries. If that does not happen, if it is only a question of normal economic cooperation, of course we do not object. And we wish that sort of partnership success.” Then there was the question of the Energy Charter adopted in 1991. Moscow wants a new deal to replace it, but the EU refuses to have the old treaty scrapped. The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, said: “We are open to a discussion at an international level on how to improve the existing frameworks… but frankly we should not throw away agreements that already exist and that have been negotiated over many years.” Other thorny issues include Moscow’s belief that Brussels sided with Georgia in last year’s brief war and Europe’s concerns over supplies of Russian gas.