EU-RUSSIA SUMMITMAY 2006
Letter from Rt Hon Geoff Hoon MP, Minister
for Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Chairman
The 17th EU-Russia Summit took place on 25 May
in Sochi, Russian Federation. The EU side was led by the Austrian
Presidency represented by Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel, the High
Representative for CFSP Javier Solana, and European Commission
President Jose Manuel Barroso. The Russian side was led by President
The Summit made some substantive progress in
the EU-Russia relationship. The two main Summit outcomes were
the approval of visa facilitation and readmission agreements between
the EU and Russia; and agreement on the basis for negotiations
on a Partnership and Co-operation Agreement (PCA) successor. The
visa facilitation agreement does not apply to the UK as a non-Schengen
country, but the UK will benefit from the readmission arrangements.
The PCA is the legal framework document for EU-Russia relations.
It expires in 2007, though it can be rolled forward. The EU and
Russia are keen to see a new agreement to reflect changes since
the PCA was first signed.
The Summit had frank discussions on areas important
to the UK. The latest round of the EU-Russia Human Rights Consultations
was welcomed. Discussion on Chechnya was particularly noted. On
the common neighbourhood, the EU expressed the hope for progress
on Nagorno-Karabakh in the South Caucasus, though the Russian
side was less optimistic. We were pleased to see final agreement
on the EU's aid package to the North Caucasus, the proposal announced
at the UK Presidency's EU-Russia Summit last year.
The EU stressed its concerns on Belarus and
Moldova. On this issue more than any other, the Russians defended
their policy of engagement with Belarus. Russia was critical of
the steps taken by the EU border assistance mission on the Moldova/Transnistria-Ukraine
border to reduce smuggling as creating undue pressure.
There were detailed discussions on energy, the
EU noting continuing concerns in Europe stemming from the January
Russia/Ukraine gas dispute interruptions. Russia in response stressed
their reliability as a supplier, although they did not agree to
EU proposals to ratify the Energy Charter Treaty.
There were discussions of a number of other
international issues such as Kosovo and Iran. The Russians raised
the Kosovo process as a possible precedent over questions of territorial
integrity, including for the South Caucasus states' frozen conflicts.
The EU underlined its view of Kosovo's unique situation.
The incoming Finnish Presidency has put the
EU's relations with Russia as one of their priorities. We welcome
this focus. We will continue to sustain the focus on commitment
to common values such as democracy, human rights, and respect
for OSCE and Council of Europe principles.
21 June 2006