A “cold” day in Helsinki

In spite of the European Commission’s efforts to resolve the recent Warsaw-Moscow stand-off, Poland—upset over a Russian import ban on Polish meat and plant products—maintained its veto, therefore putting EU-Russia negotiations on hold.

The November 24th discussions were expected to focus on the renewal of the ten-year old Co-operation and Partnership Agreement covering the areas of energy, trade and human rights, with energy issues at the top of the agenda.

Russian president Vladimir Putin nevertheless reiterated that Russia would not ratify an energy charter that would grant foreign companies full access to its energy reserves. He also emphasised that Gazprom will “preserve its integrity” and ruled out “importing EU ideas on ‘unbundling’ big companies’ energy supply and energy distribution services”, as reported by euobserver.com. Finally, Mr Putin ascertained that, although the EU is working on creating closer ties with countries such as Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, there is no real alternative to bug supplies such as Russia and Iran.

The EU can only establish a partnership with Russia if its 25 member state governments agree to it. It is the first time that one of the 10 countries that joined the EU in May 2004 has blocked such an important agreement.

The summit did, however, succeed in launching the Northern Dimension treaty with Russia, Norway and Iceland, focusing on oil and gas exploration and fishing North of the Arctic Circle, Russian nuclear submarines as well as social issues, including the spread of AIDS.

Claire Chevallier-Cordonnier