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Russian media sees fanfare, little progress at anniversary bash
June 2, 2003

The party over and the empty bottles cleared away, Russian media Monday pondered whether Saint Petersburg's tercentenary bash attended by more than 42 heads of state and government had achieved anything useful, and decided probably not.

The "brilliant" image of Russia's relations with the European Union and the United States presented at the weekend summits "does not match their content," wrote the pro-Kremlin daily Vremya Novostei.

In EU-Russia relations, "the contrast between the objectives -- the doubling of deliveries of Russian oil and gas, the joint economic space, the ending of the visa regime -- and the results is striking," the paper said.

"There were beautiful declarations, but in daily life the mutual disappointments, even the irritation, are mounting," it said.

The business daily Vedomosti believed that "the Europeans agreed on the scale of the problem, but refused to put forward concrete proposals."

The opposition daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta also pointed to a lack of "visible progress" at Saturday's EU-Russia summit.

"The doors of Europe are closed, there is the 'Schengen wall', as (President Vladimir) Putin called it. The issue of moving towards a visa-free regime was raised in the final communique in a very vague manner," it said.

As for Russia-US ties, media noted that there appeared to have been some improvement, though Vedomosti was dubious as to whether Russia would receive "any benefits."

Vremya Novostei believed relations between Moscow and Washington were "clear and simple: our leaders looked into each other's eyes and understanding was restored."

Vedomosti noted that Putin and his US counterpart George W. Bush "separated as if there had been no Iraq crisis," welcoming a "spectacular rapprochement that contrasts with the difficulties of restoring Washington's ties with Paris and Berlin."

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