What has been achieved at the EU-Russia summit?

08:22, November 20, 2009      

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Historical twists and turns are still in many people’s mind as Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev came to Stockholm for a one day summit with the European Union and the EU Presidency Sweden. The Swedish media welcomed the Russian Prime Minister with an article saying that if Russia takes action to offend any of the EU countries, Sweden will take action to fight back, which is understood by a lot of people who has the historical memory.

Yet, the Russian Prime Minister said “we had discussions on a range of issues without putting too much emotions,” at the press conference after the EU-Russian Summit chaired by the Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, at which President Dmitry Medvedev, President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso and EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana also participated. What has been achieved at the summit?

First, climate change and energy issues dominated the day’s discussions at the third-country summit between the EU and Russia. President Medvedev stressed that Russia has already met its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol and that the country will further reduce its emissions. Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt welcomed Russia’s constructive attitude to climate change, while emphasizing that cooperation between the EU and Russia on climate change needs to be further strengthened.

"We are in agreement to stick on the two degree target and the need for emissions reductions from both developed and developing countries in order to reach it. Russia is one of the world’s greatest emitting countries, so it has an important role to play if the world is to reach a climate agreement in Copenhagen”, said Fredrik Reinfeldt at the press conference after the meeting,

José Manuel Barroso welcomed Russia’s raised ambitions on climate change. He stressed the importance of success in Copenhagen.

“We cannot negotiate with nature. We cannot negotiate with physics. We cannot negotiate with science. I have asked my staff to cooperate closely with their Russian colleagues in order to work out the details of Russia’s increased commitment on these issues”, he said.

Second, energy efficiency and energy security were the other main discussion topics of the day. The EU and Russia are interdependent energy partners. At the summit, the EU emphasized the importance of stability, transparency and predictability, in order to ensure that energy relations run smoothly in the future.

The energy agreement between the EU and Russia that was signed on Monday in Moscow was welcomed. The agreement will sound the alarm when there is a risk of a new energy crisis. Prime Minister Reinfeldt said the system is known as an enhanced Early Warning Mechanism and will help to avoid interruptions in energy supply from Russia to the EU in the future.

“Without these agreements, we cannot imagine a normal life in Europe,” said the Russian Prime Minister stressing the progress made with North Stream and South Stream projects.

Third, trade, human rights and democracy were also discussed at the summit. On trade, both Reinfeldt and Barroso stressed the importance of Russia to join the World Trade Organization.

“Russia is an important partner with EU, Russia is also very important in the world. Our concern is not to delay, but an early accession to the WTO for Russia,” said Barroso.

Fourth, Medvedev highlighted the discussions on visa exemption between the EU and Russia.

“Today’s visa system prevents normal exchange between Russia and the EU. We must continue to work to resolve this issue”, said Medvedev.

“We must continue to exchange our opinions for future cooperation. I invite Prime Minister Reinfeldt to visit Russia,” said Medvedev while Reinfeldt said difficulty is actually a reason for further meeting in order to understand each other more.

In connection with the summit, a number of agreements on Cross Border Cooperation were also signed between the European Commission and Russia, according to the EU sources.

By Xuefei Chen, People’s Daily Online, Stockholm.

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