October 25th, 2007 01:52 EST
Summit to decide fate of Kosovo
Kosovo will top the agenda of the Russia–EU summit to be held in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, over the next two days. Russia's investment in the EU, as well as energy security, are also likely to be discussed.
According to Russian officials, Moscow could vote in favour of an independent Kosovo if Pristina and Belgrade reach agreement between themselves first.
“The Russian position will consist of three points. One of them is to achieve some kind of agreement with those in the EU who support the idea of postponing the independence of Kosovo. The second is to come to a sort of agreement with the Albanians – as you know, they visited the Kremlin and promised not to promulgate independence unilaterally. The third problem is how to co-operate with the Serbian side. The Serbs will not agree to the unilateral independence,” commented Artyom Ulunian from Moscow-based Institute of World History.
But time is running out, as Kosovans threaten to declare independence unilaterally if there is no compromise by December 10.
The ultimate goal for the EU is to have a single voice when speaking to Russia. To date they've failed to do it. Some countries have found it easier to deal with Moscow directly, while others are busy settling old scores. Russian analysts point to the Baltic States and Poland in particular.
Poland blocked talks on the EU-Russian partnership agreement following Russia's ban on meat imports from Poland.
Still, Sergey Yasterzhembsky, Presidential Special Envoy to EU, said that despite this, the EU-Russia partnership will be valid next year: “It’s already clear that at the beginning of December both sides will declare the automatic prolongation of the current agreement for the next year”.
Meantime, Russia hopes the victory of the Civic Platform party over the Kaczynski brothers in the Polish parliamentary elections might improve relations between the countries.
The security of energy supplies is also among the top issues on the agenda. Europe, heavily dependent on energy imports from Russia, fears a repeat of the events of 2005 and 2006 when Russia's demand that its gas was bought at market prices was followed by energy disputes, first with Ukraine and then Belarus.
This time Russian officials are offering to introduce an early warning system that will alert Brussels in advance should such cases occur in future.
This seems to calm some of the Europeans who pledge their support to Russia:
“We cannot understand the history of Europe without Russia and we cannot conceive the future of Europe without Russia,” stated Portuguese Ambassador to Russia, Manuel Marco Kurtu.
With all the stumbling blocks in the relations between Russia and the EU, and even divisions within the union itself, finding a common approach might be hard but it is in the interests of both sides.
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