EU's Eastern Partnership program not against Moscow - Lavrov
MOSCOW, April 28 (RIA Novosti) - Russia has been given a guarantee that the European Union's Eastern Partnership program is not directed against Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a news conference in Luxembourg on Tuesday.
The Eastern Partnership summit is scheduled for May 7 in Prague. The program is designed to improve human rights and the rule of law in six former Soviet republics - Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia - and address trade and visa issues.
"We heard an announcement from Brussels that this is not an attempt to create a new sphere of influence and that it is not a process which is directed against Russia. We want to believe in this guarantee but I won't deny that some comments on the initiative made by the EU have concerned us," Lavrov said.
Lavrov said that relations between Russia and the EU in solving the global financial crisis is developing very successfully, noting that "the level of activity depends on how much Europe can solve the issues set before them and influence steps to reform the international financial system."
The minister also said that he had discussed at a Tuesday meeting preparations for the Russia-EU summit in Russia's Far East in Khabarovsk which is slated for May 21-22.
During the meeting, trade partnerships and a new legal base in relations between Russia and the European Union were also discussed. He said that both sides had confirmed their readiness to seek mutual solutions in trade, access to markets and investment schemes since this has been "an issue for both sides."