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Russia lifts ban on Polish meat supply
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09:07, December 19, 2007

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Russia announced on Tuesday its scheduled lifting of a two-year ban on Polish meat supplies in an effort to improve strained relations with Poland while Warsaw pledged to drop its veto on a new EU-Russia cooperation pact.

A memorandum on Polish meat supplies to Russia will be signed this week, Presidential Envoy for Russia-EU Relations Sergei Yastrzhembsky said when attending a Moscow-Warsaw video-bridge on Tuesday.

"Russia held over 60 inspections in Poland from Nov. 14 to Dec.14," Yastrzhembsky was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency as saying. "Their results made it possible to draft the referendum. We are optimistic. The problem of Polish vegetable supplies to Russia will be resolved next week, on the sidelines of the Green Week in Berlin."

The previously frosty relationship between Poland and Russia has improved since Donald Tusk's election victory in October. Under the new premier, Moscow and Warsaw have agreed to tackle the two main disputes holding back their relations.

"We regret the developments of the past two years. At the same time, we cannot say that relations between Russia and Poland were in a standstill. Trade stood at 14 billion U.S. dollars last year alone," Yastrzhembsky said. "Poland became the fourth largest trade partner of Russia in the EU."

"Russia and Poland are on the verge of a new page in the bilateral relations ... Moscow has taken notice of the messages sent by the Polish premier and members of his government. Citizens of Russia and Poland deserve better bilateral relations," he said.

The present Russia-EU agreement on partnership and cooperation expires this year.

Warsaw vetoed talks on a partnership agreement in response to a Russian ban on imports of meat and other farm products from Poland, which, Moscow argued, failed to meet Russian sanitary standards.

However, the absence of a new fundamental agreement between Russia and the EU does not "imply a crack in this relationship (with Poland)," Yastrzhembsky said.

"We have always been making progress, even at the most difficult moments of our relations. Our relations are sustainable although we have certain crises," he said.

"If Poland lifts the veto, the European Commission will be authorized to hold negotiations on a new partnership and cooperation agreement with Russia. The veto has not been lifted as yet, and it is unclear when that may happen," he said.

Negotiations on a new partnership agreement between the EU and Russia may start in 2008 as Slovenia chairs the EU, the Slovenian temporary charge d'affaires in Moscow said on Tuesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also said on Tuesday "I'm sure we will soon reach a new agreement on long-term cooperation" with EU.

Russia also showed its sincerity by pledging not to deploy any military elements in the Kaliningrad region -- a Russian enclave located between Poland and Lithuania.

"We do not wish to create any military sites in the Kaliningradregion, as we do not regard Poland as an enemy. We hope that Poland does not regard Russia as an enemy either," Yastrzhembsky said.

Moscow and Warsaw will discuss the prospective deployment of U.S. missile defense elements on the Polish territory in early 2008, Yastrzhembsky said.

Moscow hopes that the new Polish government will listen to its arguments against the prospective deployment of U.S. missile defense elements in Eastern Europe, he said.

"The previous Polish government refused to discuss the issue with Russia" and opposed the mediation of NATO in that issue ... It is good that our partners are willing to discuss the pressing issues," Yastrzhembsky said.

Source: Xinhua



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