A Europe-Russia summit this Thursday and Friday is likely to be dominated by a dispute over Moscow’s ban on EU vegetable imports. Europe’s E.coli outbreak is crimping Russia’s bid to join the World Trade Organisation this year. The European Parliament insists that sanitary concerns must not be misused.
Elmar Brok said: “This is a very emotional matter and people are afraid, but on the other hand such questions cannot be used as alibis for protectionist measures, and here there must be a clear clarification that this is not a reason that the import of all European products in this question is stopped by Russia. That it is totally out of any dimension.”
While Russian officials say Moscow is fed up of EU hectoring over human rights and democracy, MEPs continue to press that point.
Kristiina Ojuland said: “Russia is not China. Russia is a member of the Council of Europe and the OSCE with all the international commitments and plus we expect Russia as a partner to implement their own constitution, allowing basic freedoms of association, media freedoms.”
A gay pride march violently broken up by Moscow police for the sixth year running ignored Europe’s top rights court rulings which apply to all Council of Europe signatories. In a pre-summit resolution, MEPs expressed their regret.