Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
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#12 - JRL 8478 - JRL Home
December 1, 2004
Javier Solana: EU and Russia working together to overcome Ukraine crisis
EU high representative on common foreign and security policy gives interview to Interfax before leaving Kyiv for Moscow

How do you assess the dynamics of recent developments in EU-Russia relations? What is the new European Union's Russian policy?

I think that the recent dynamics in our relations are positive. EU enlargement means that the EU and Russia are closer neighbours and have a more intense relationship than before. We had a very good summit meeting in The Hague last week, and we have shown in the past year that we are able to solve difficult issues in our relations in a constructive way. This was the case for EU enlargement. We are also very pleased that Russia has ratified the Kyoto Protocol.

How would you comment on opinions that EU-Russia relations have cooled off because the adverse effects of the EU enlargement on Russia are taking too long to eliminate and because the EU and Russia are divided on the current crisis in Ukraine triggered by the presidential election? Do you see these issues as serious threats to EU-Russia relations?

I don't think there has been a cooling off at all. As I said, we have found a good way of dealing with the consequences of EU enlargement. On Ukraine, we had a very open and frank discussion at the summit, and we agreed that the crisis there should be solved peacefully and through dialogue. The fact that we were both present in the round table discussions in Kiev last Friday shows that we are working together to overcome the crisis. So, I don't see a real threat to EU-Russia relations. As you know, I have been to Kiev once again this week to assist the local leaders find a political solution for the crisis.

When do you foresee the EU and Russia definitively settling their disputes on the Kaliningrad freight transit issue?

A prosperous Kaliningrad is a shared interest of both the EU and Russia. Freight transit is part of this issue, but there are many other elements as well, such as environment and transport. These are all issues we will continue looking at in a positive spirit in the coming years. I think it is wrong therefore to talk in terms of "settling disputes" the Kaliningrad issue.

Is it clear when visa regulations for Russian and EU nationals may be simplified and when visa-exempt travel will become possible?

Negotiations are underway already on a readmission agreement as well as on a reciprocal visa facilitation between the EU and Russia. We hope that there will be progress on both of these issues, so that we will be able to move closer to the perspective of a visa free regime, which at the moment is still a long term perspective.

Could you set out points of disagreement between the EU and Russia on the planned common economic space, common space of freedom, security and justice and common space of cooperation in the field of external security? What does the EU think can make the agreement possible?

We agree on the vast majority of points in these three common spaces, and there are really only a few issues where we still have not reached an agreement. We are therefore determined to make an extra effort to settle all questions at the Moscow summit planned next May. These negotiations are held in a very positive and constructive atmosphere and we are confident that we will reach a satisfactory outcome.