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Archive for the ‘Russia & Western Europe’ Category

Russia sick and tired of Europe’s criticism

Posted by Kris Roman on June 26, 2009

The session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) is closing in Strasbourg on Friday. This session may become the last one for the Russian delegation. Russia may be deprived of the voting right in Europe’s largest organization already this autumn or winter, the chairman of the Committee for International Affairs of Russia’s State Duma, Konstantin Kosachev said.

The Kremlin has repeatedly said before that Russia would be ready to leave the Council of Europe in case the organization introduces such a sanction. If it happens, Russian citizens will not be able to address to the European Court for Human Rights to appeal the decision of Russian courts and authorities. For the time being, Belarus is the only country in Europe which does not hold the PACE membership.

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Window to Europe a treat for Dutch

Posted by Kris Roman on June 22, 2009

Aleksandra Kosharnitskaya, RT

What are the images that come to your mind when you hear the word “Amsterdam”?

It has taken more than a decade to complete the project. And the opening ceremony went off with the bang as guests of honor – Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and President Medvedev among them – watched the grand “fireworks” finale of the celebrations (notably, fireworks are banned in the city, but the authorities made an exception for this occasion).

“Peter the Great would be happy with this,” the head of the Hermitage, Mikhail Piotrovsky, told the journalists who attended the event.

By bringing its most renowned museum to Amsterdam, Russia’s returning the favor.

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News on Russia exaggerated and biased – German survey

Posted by Kris Roman on March 2, 2009


About half of Germany’s population believes that the German media’s news and comments on Russia are exaggerated and have a misrepresenting nature, which is creating a negative image of Russia, a survey says.

The research carried out by the German Institute of social studies ‘forsa’, says only 36 per cent of those polled believe that the German media’s coverage of Russia represents facts, while 49 per cent say it does not.

The survey also revealed that 44 per cent of respondents say such publications contribute to creating a negative image of Russia. Only 13 per cent characterize the image thus formed as positive, and 42 per cent as neutral.

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Russia allows overland Germany army shipments to Afghanistan

Posted by Kris Roman on November 20, 2008

Russia said Thursday it has authorised the transport of German military equipment to Afghanistan through Russian territory, the first time it has authorised such a transit by a foreign state.

Russian authorities on November 10 “issued a permit for… the rail transit through Russian territory of arms, military equipment and military property of the Bundeswehr to Afghanistan,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“This will be the first experience of this kind between Russia and a foreign state, emphasizing the close cooperation with Germany in the sphere of cooperation in countering mutual problems and threats to security,” it added.

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Belgium cancels warship visit to Russia

Posted by Kris Roman on September 12, 2008


RIA Novosti

Belgium has cancelled an official visit by one of its warships to Russia, a source in the Russian Navy said on Friday.

The Belgian F931 Louise-Marie frigate was scheduled to visit a naval base in St. Petersburg on September 12-15.

“Belgium has sent us a note saying that despite friendly relations between Belgium and Russia NATO has recommended that the country cancel the visit due to the current political crisis,” the source said.

The current crisis in relations between Russia and NATO began when Georgian forces attacked breakaway South Ossetia on August 8, triggering a Russian operation to “force Georgia to peace.” Most residents of South Ossetia and another breakaway region, Abkhazia, have Russian citizenship.

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Ballistic missile defence and European security

Posted by Kris Roman on August 28, 2008

Margot Light for RIA Novosti

The agreement concluded between the United States and Poland on August 20th on the deployment of 10 interceptor missiles, part of America’s planned Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system, was an inadvertent (and possibly unanticipated) result of the Russian-Georgian conflict.

After months of prevarication, the Poles stopped increasing the level of military aid they demanded in return for hosting the missiles, while the U.S., previously reluctant to exacerbate Moscow’s hostility to its European BMD plans, agreed that by 2012 it will station a Patriot missile battery in Poland, together with a garrison to support it.

This is not the only unanticipated consequence of the Georgian conflict. In July the Czech government agreed to station a radar missile tracking base – the other European element of the planned BMD system – 90 km from Prague. The immediate reduction in the Russian deliveries of oil to the Czech Republic was widely interpreted in the West as Russia’s retaliation against the agreement, despite Transneft’s declaration that there were technical and commercial reasons for the cut.

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EU leaders considering sanctions against Russia

Posted by Kris Roman on August 28, 2008

RIA Novosti

EU countries are considering imposing sanctions on Russia over the Georgia crisis, the French foreign minister said on Thursday.

“Sanctions are being considered, as are many other measures,” said Bernard Kouchner. He had earlier said that sanctions against Moscow were not on the agenda.

France, which holds the EU rotating presidency, has called an emergency EU summit on Monday to review relations with Russia.

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Russia to propose pan-European security pact

Posted by Kris Roman on August 10, 2008


Individual European countries should sign up to a legally-binding security pact that includes Russia in a new structure over-arching the EU and NATO, Russian diplomats will propose at a meeting of NATO ambassadors in Brussels on Monday (28 July).

The pact would be negotiated at a special international forum convened by Russia and could embrace emerging powers Brazil and India, Central Asian states and existing international security alliances such as the EU, NATO, the OSCE, the CIS and the CSTO.

Moscow: keen to formalise its role as a major world player (Photo: wikipedia)

The treaty would handle “problems” such as NATO enlargement, illegal migration, drug trafficking, organised crime and terrorism, Russian NATO ambassador Dmitry Rogozin told the New York Times, admitting the idea is unlikely to get a warm welcome at first.

“We do not expect immediate reaction on the part of our western partners, or booing or, on the contrary, applause,” he said, with western analysts arguing the proposed Russian set-up would weaken NATO by subjecting it to external vetoes.

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Russia, Norway to draw up border facilitation agreement

Posted by Kris Roman on June 10, 2008

Russia and Norway will draft an agreement to facilitate border crossing for residents of regions close to the countries’ shared border, the Russian foreign minister said on Tuesday.

“We proposed drafting an intergovernmental agreement on simplified border crossing for residents of border territories. Our Norwegian colleagues agreed to this,” Sergei Lavrov told a press conference after talks with his Norwegian counterpart, Jonas Gahr Store.

The Russian minister said border residents should have no problems “for everyday communication with their colleagues on the other side of the border”, adding that the new scheme should not be held back with excessive red tape.

Lavrov said a visa facilitation agreement has been signed, and that the two countries will soon exchange ratification instruments.

The upper house of Russia’s parliament ratified on May 30 a Russian-Norwegian simplified visa issuance agreement, which will apply to officials, businessmen, journalists, scientists, culture and education workers, and students.

Lavrov and Store also opened on Wednesday a laboratory in Murmansk to research the behavior of oil during accident spills, and to formulate recommendations to eliminate the consequences of spills.

The lab was built with financial support from Norway’s TatoilHydro at a cost of 12 million rubles ($510,000).

Murmansk is a major port in northern Russia, and handles large oil tankers departing Russia for Europe and the United States.

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EU wants wide-reaching partnership deal with Russia

Posted by Kris Roman on June 4, 2008

The European Union wants a new partnership deal with Russia to be all-encompassing, with specific legal obligations, the 27-nation bloc’s external relations commissioner said on Wednesday.

Negotiations on a new Partnership and Cooperation Treaty, long-delayed over disputes between Russia and EU members Poland and Lithuania, are set to begin at a summit in western Siberia later this month.

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Russia, Denmark sign visa facilitation, readmission agreements

Posted by Kris Roman on May 27, 2008


Russia and Denmark have signed intergovernmental agreements on visa facilitation and readmission during a visit by Russia’s foreign minister to Copenhagen, the Danish foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Per Stig Moller said the agreements will help to ease contacts between scientists, businessmen and students of the two countries. The deal is in line with agreements signed between the EU and Russia in December 2006, which did not cover some EU countries, including the U.K., Ireland and Denmark.

“I am sure that the signed documents today will considerably ease possibilities for contacts between our people,” the minister said following a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

Moller also accepted Lavrov’s invitation to visit Russia.

In addition to his meeting with the Danish foreign minister, Lavrov will also meet with Queen Margrethe II and Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen during his two-day visit to Denmark.


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EU expects deeper partnership with Medvedev-led Russia

Posted by Kris Roman on May 7, 2008

The Council of the European Union expects that a deeper partnership will be established with Russia following the inauguration of the new President, Dmitry Medvedev, on Wednesday, a spokesman said.

The spokesman urged “joint solutions” to problems, pointing out that Russia and the EU held similar positions on the bulk of international issues.

The official also expressed hope that the EU would soon issue a mandate for the start of negotiations on a new partnership and cooperation agreement with Russia.

Lithuania blocked a mandate on a new EU-Russia treaty, when foreign ministers from the 27-member bloc discussed the issue in Luxembourg on April 24. Vilnius demanded the talks address its concerns over Russian energy supplies and Moscow’s policy on Georgia and Moldova.

Russia, which supplies over a quarter of Europe’s natural gas, has repeatedly dismissed accusations it is using energy as a political tool and insists it is a reliable supplier.

Poland, which had until recently blocked talks on a new Partnership and Cooperation deal over Moscow’s embargo on Polish meat, said in late April it was ready to lift its objections to negotiations.

Last year, Russia and the EU extended the old Partnership and Cooperation agreement for a further year. The sides hope to reach a new deal by the end of 2008.

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Russia upper house ratifies maritime border treaty with Norway

Posted by Kris Roman on March 19, 2008

The Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, ratified on Wednesday a maritime border treaty with Norway.

The treaty on the delineation of a disputed section of the border in the Varanger fjord area of the Barents Sea was signed in July 2007 and submitted to the Duma by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The previous agreement on the Varanger fjord, signed in 1957, applied to the inner part of the fjord, while the new agreement delimits the outer part.

Mikhail Margelov, the chairman of the upper house’s international affairs committee, said under the treaty, “Russia will receive an additional 26 kilometers of maritime territory.”

The State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, ratified the treaty last Friday.

Responding to a MP’s question on whether the new treaty would help resolve sporadic fishing disputes in the area between Russia and Norway, Yuly Kvitsinsky, first deputy head of the Duma’s International Affairs Committee, said the treaty does not cover fishing areas.

The agreement could lead to a final settlement on the delineation of the 155,000 sq km Norwegian-Russian disputed zone, considered likely to hold substantial oil and gas deposits. The Varanger fjord area falls outside this zone.

Norway and Russia have been negotiating the delineation of the disputed area since the 1970s.

The Varanger fjord, in the county of Finnmark, is the easternmost fjord in Norway. It is approximately 100 km long.

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Russia, France to discuss new Russia-EU agreement in Paris

Posted by Kris Roman on March 7, 2008

oreign and defense ministers from Russia and France are to meet in Paris on March 11 for a session of the Russian-French Council for Security Cooperation.”Among the key issues on the agenda will be the preparation for talks on signing a new long-term strategic Russia-EU agreement, replacing the current 1997 Partnership and Cooperation agreement,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said.Poland blocked negotiations for a new EU partnership agreement with Moscow because of a Russian embargo on Polish meat in November 2005, which Moscow said was over health concerns, but Warsaw called political.The 2005 meat ban was a major source of tension between the two countries under the previous conservative government in Poland. Russia resumed meat imports from Poland in December 2007.Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who visited Moscow at the beginning of February, said that Poland could soon lift its veto on EU-Russia partnership agreement talks. Warsaw has not yet done this, however.Last year, Russia and the EU extended the Partnership and Cooperation agreement by a year, and are hoping to reach a new deal by the end of 2008.All of the 27 EU’s member-states must give their approval to talks on a new agreement between the European Union and Russia.France will take over the presidency of the European Union from July 1, and Moscow has plans to discuss “further steps to ease the visa regime between Russia and the EU,” in Paris, Kamynin said.The Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, the U.S. missile shield plans in the Czech Republic and Poland, and the prospects for Russia-NATO cooperation, as well as Kosovo’s independence and the Middle East will be also on the meeting’s agenda, the diplomat added.The Russian-French Council for Security Cooperation was established on July 8, 2002 to meet the goal of enhancing bilateral cooperation in international security. The two countries’ foreign and defense ministers attend the council sessions, which are held once a year.


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