Interview with Javier Solana, the European Union's High Representative for the
Common Foreign and Security Policy, ahead of the Russia-EU Summit in Samara
16th May, 2007
Question: What results do you expect from the Samara summit?
As always there is much to talk about between us and it will certainly be a rich and
interesting discussion. We will of course assess progress in the implementation of
the Roadmaps to the Four Spaces, which were adopted in May 2005 in Moscow and have
marked the beginning of a qualitatively new phase in the EU-Russia strategic
partnership. We will be looking at energy and how to strengthen our cooperation,
including developing an energy early warning mechanism and the need for synergies
between energy policy goals and actions to address climate change. We will also
discuss the need for a positive investment climate and Russia's accession to the WTO
where there are still some outstanding issues on which progress is needed. We will
welcome the conclusion by Russia and the EU of the ratification procedures of the
visa facilitation and readmission agreements and look forward to their simultaneous
entry into force on 1 June 2007. Finally, I expect we will address the internal
situation in Russia and the EU, as well as practical cooperation in our
neighbourhood, in particular how we can co-operate to resolve frozen conflicts.
Question: Are you satisfied with EU-Russia relations?
Russia is the European Union's biggest and most important neighbour. The European
Union and Russia are developing into real strategic partners, and in this respect
the state of our relations is good. We have established a mature relationship
between equal partners. However, recent developments have overshadowed the
generally good progress across the four Common Spaces. As in any close relationship
with any international partner, there are problems which arise and need to be
addressed. We had hoped to be able to launch negotiations on a new EU-Russia
Agreement at the Summit, but regrettably this will not be possible, as we still
need to overcome the problem of the Russian ban on imports of meat and plant
products from Poland. The recent events surrounding Estonia have not gone
unnoticed, nor have the continuing problems surrounding the interruption of oil
supplies to Lithuania via the Druzhba pipeline. However, we can and do address such
problems openly with our Russian partners. On the foreign policy side, I see Russia
as a key partner with which we work together very closely on crucial questions such
as the Middle East Peace Process, Iran, the Western Balkans and North Korea. We
meet very often in the different international formats where we both are members.
Question: Do you believe there are tensions in EU-Russia relations? If so, what can
be done to ease them off?
I would not say that our relations have become tense. As in any relationship, there
are issues on which we have different opinions and approaches. However, our
relationship has reached such a level of maturity that we can address problems in an
open and constructive manner. -0-