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Uneasy Meeting At Samara

  • May 19th, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

samara-group.jpgThe meeting between European leaders and President Vladimir Putin at Samara has ended without a joint statement, among signs that disagreements will remain strong.

President Putin told a media conference after the gathering (18.5.07) he believed more groundwork had been done for compromises.

He has reproached the European Union over its policy of support for human rights, which by its own rules must be invoked when making agreements with outside countries.

He has complained that the EU position contradicts what he sees as the violation of the rights of ethnic Russians in Estonia, an EU member country, in their dispute with its government over the relocation of a Soviet era war memorial.

His “summit” meeting was with the current President of the European Council, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, and the President of the European Commission , Jose Manuel Barroso.

Chancellor Merkel publicly criticised the Russian authorities over their blocking of free travel by opposition leaders to Samara to stage a protest over rights.

This was backed by a statement from the non-government agency, Human Rights Watch, which deplored the bans, saying those were part of a general reaction over the last seven years — involving widespread withdrawal or denial of human rights.

Today’s summit partners have been in disagreement over other problems between Russia and former Eastern bloc states along its borders.

In particular it has engaged in a trade dispute with Poland, and in return that country has being vetoing proposed strategic partnership talks between Russia and the EU.

There is tension also over European demands for guaranteed flows of oil and gas under contracts with Russia; and Western sympathy for independence Kosovo.

On Kosovo, Crisis Group International has declared there are “no good alternatives” to a United Nations plan that would move the territory towards a “supervised independence”.

Crisis Group is a non-government organisation based in Brussels, committed to preventing violent conflict.

Reference:
Barents Observer: www.BarentsObserver.com (18.5.07)
BBC Television: Richard Galpin, Samara, BBC World News, 18.5.07
Human Rights Watch: www.hrw.org (18.5.07)
International Crisis Group: www.crisisgroup.org (18.5.07)

Picture: Vladimir Putin and EU leaders, kremlin.ru

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