Russia-EU summit concluded, divisions remain

Other News Materials 18 May 2007 18:43 (UTC +04:00)

( RIA Novosti) - President Putin held difficult talks with European Union leaders Friday at a Russia-EU summit plagued by complex disputes between Moscow and certain members of the 27-nation bloc.

The sides had previously hoped to launch negotiations on a new cooperation deal between Russia and the EU, but a veto on the talks from Poland over Russia's embargo on its meat exports remains in force, and has received the support of Lithuania.

At the beginning of talks at a health spa near the Volga city of Samara, Vladimir Putin pledged to hold "an open and sincere dialogue without any taboo subjects" with EU leaders, including Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, which holds the EU rotating presidency, and the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso.

After the talks, no joint declaration was drawn up, in contrast with usual practice. However, the president denied that the summit had produced no results.

"We agreed on nearly all issues, except sensitive ones that require additional study," he said. "These are mostly problems that stem from economic selfishness."

The president said Russia is ready to continue talks on the Polish meat issue.

"We have not yet solved the Polish meat problem, since our Polish colleagues have not been on speaking terms with us for over a year," Putin said. "Thank God, there is the German Chancellor representing their interests. We will move further."

Barroso signaled his support for EU-member Poland, calling Moscow's embargo on Polish meat unjustified.

"If there were grounds [for an embargo], we would not allow Poland to circulate meat in the European Union," the commission's president told journalists after the summit.

In response to criticisms over alleged police brutality at Russian anti-government protests, Putin highlighted Estonia's treatment of ethnic Russians at recent protests in Tallinn over the removal of a Soviet war memorial.

He said Russia demands punishment for those guilty of failing to intervene to save the life of a Russian who died in the protests.

"It is not the case that an accident occurred. We are worried that this person was not given aid when he was injured. He was dying in front of police. This is a deliberate crime, and we demand that the criminals be brought to account," he said.