On 28 February, the EU will meet Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, in Luxembourg for discussions on the development of the EU-Russia strategic partnership. Discussions will focus in particular on security issues, including in regions adjacent to the EU and Russia, frozen conflicts, terrorism and non proliferation. The meeting will also take stock of the progress achieved since the last EU-Russia Summit in The Hague in November 2004, including on negotiations on Road Maps for the creation of the four ‘common spaces’. The Commission will look forward to the first round of EU-Russia consultations on human rights on 1 March as well as to the Commission needs assessment mission to the north Caucasus, in mid-March. Alongside European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU will be represented by the Luxembourg Foreign Minister, Jean Asselborn, and High Representative, Javier Solana.
On the eve of the meeting, Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner said “Russia is an essential partner for the EU. To reap the full potential of our relationship, I hope we will make substantial progress on the four Road Maps to enable us to conclude them at our summit in May. These set out an ambitious agenda for our work together in the coming years, to deepen our economic co-operation, but also to step up our efforts together to build security for our citizens and in our immediate neighbourhood, and to forge new links in education and research”.
She added: ”In a strong partnership, both sides speak openly. I look forward to continuing dialogue with Russia on a wide range of issues including democracy and human rights. The launch of our new human rights consultations on March 1st is an important step forward.”
Negotiations are currently underway for a package of four Road Maps to create “common spaces” for Economic Co-operation; Freedom Security and Justice; External Security; and Research, Education and Culture.
Discussions during the Ministerial meeting will also focus on democracy and human rights in particular in the ‘common neighbourhood’ of the EU and Russia, cooperation in crisis management and cooperation in the field of civil protection.
The Commission will recall its willingness to provide funds for reconstruction and rehabilitation in the northern Caucasus. In order to prepare possible assistance, the Commission will note that it intends to send a needs assessment mission to the region in mid-March, to see how best it can support efforts to end the ongoing conflict and foster a political solution in Chechnya.
The EU will underline its continuing readiness to support socio-economic development in Kaliningrad, and its wish to set up a sub-Committee under the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement with Russia to handle issues relating to Kaliningrad.
Ministers will also discuss a number of current regional and international issues: Georgia, Moldova, the OSCE, the Middle East Peace Process, Iran and the Western Balkans.
Following a decision of the last EU-Russia summit in December 2004, the first round of EU-Russia consultations on human rights, the rights of persons belonging to minorities and fundamental freedoms, will take place in Luxembourg on 1 March. The consultations will discuss the human rights situation in Russia (including Chechnya), and the EU, as well as international human rights issues, including preparation for the Geneva Commission on Human Rights.
Further information on the EU's relations with Russia