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EU and Russia sit down to talk in Nice

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 EU and Russia sit down to talk in Nice
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The European Union’s relations with Russia will be under the spotlight in the south of France today as efforts are made to rekindle the relationship between Moscow and Brussels.

But not all EU member countries are happy to see Dmitry Medvedev returning to the negotiating table while his troops remain in Georgia.

Medvedev told reporters: “I applaud the efforts that the French president is making to set up a full-scale, productive, long-term, profitable dialogue between Russia and the EU. We want exactly this kind of relationship with the Union and we think this is exactly what both Russia and Europe need.”

But the summer war in Georgia opened up a schism between Russia and the West as its troops poured over the border into Georgia’s breakaway regions and refused to leave. Some 7,000 Russian soldiers are still there but talks are now resuming in Nice on a strategic treaty.

EU Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner said: “Russia is a very important geopolitical actor, so we want to, of course, have a dialogue with Russia. But, at the same time, this does not mean that we change our position on, for instance, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. It was disproportionate, the way Russia has answered in Georgia.”

Lithuania is opposed to the resumption of talks. But the EU knows it is hostage to crucial Russian energy supplies. Brussels is now planning a new electricity network and new European-run gas pipelines.