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EUobserver/EU-Digest: EU-Russia summit ends with prickly exchange over energy - by Andrew Rettman

For the complete report from the EUobserver click on this link

EU-Russia summit ends with prickly exchange over energy - by Andrew Rettman

Originally billed as an uneventful meeting on technical issues such as trade tariffs, the EU-Russia summit in the Far East on Friday (22 May) ended in open disagreement over foreign policy and energy security. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned that the EU's new Eastern Partnership project to improve relations with six former-Soviet states risks inflaming political tensions. "I'll put it succinctly. We tried to convince ourselves [that the EU project is harmless] but in the end we couldn't," he said, newswires report. "What worries us is that in some countries attempts are being made to exploit this structure as a partnership against Russia."

The Russophile President Vaclav Klaus stayed on message at the summit, repeating the EU lines that Russia is a "strategic partner" and that the Eastern Partnership "is not aimed against anybody." But comments he made in Czech daily Lidove Noviny before the Khabarovsk meeting have caused anger inside the EU. "I don't see Russia as a threat but as a big, strong and ambitious country to which we must certainly pay more attention than to the likes of Estonia and Lithuania," the paper quoted him as saying.

Note EU-Digest: President Vaclav Klaus is certainly on target here. The EU must consider Russia's demands certainly more serious than the more emotional and the politically motivated demands by some of the former Soviet countries which have become EU member states.

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