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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following the Russia-EU Summit
Joint press conference with the Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, and the European Council President Herman Van Rompuy
Nizhny Novogorod, 10 June 2011
Thank you very much President Medvedev,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me start with a word of gratitude for the warm welcome we have received in this historical and beautiful city of Nizhny Novgorod.
Alexander Pushkin, such a great famous Russian poet, whose life is closely associated to this city, said once: “Inspiration is needed in politics, just as much as in poetry.” And I think we got good inspiration from the very positive atmosphere of this Summit.
It was a substantive and successful Russia-EU Summit which was instrumental in bringing our strategic partnership forward.
Let me just highlight a few points:
First, our Partnership for Modernization is now delivering in practice. Our coordinators have reported on the progress made. Joint projects and activities are already underway and boost our modernization agenda, such as our European Union action supporting a Russia-wide judicial appeal system. The Partnership is thus making a major, mutually beneficial contribution, as do the 16 bilateral modernization partnerships which our Member States have concluded with Russia.
This is backed up by concrete European funding: The EBRD and the EIB. The EIB just today agreed Memoranda of Understanding with the VEB (the Russian Development Bank) to support Partnership for Modernization projects, for a total of almost € 2 billion.
Clearly, this modernization must be broad-based to be successful. Transformation is not just about technology. The creative forces of society as a whole must be engaged.
The rule of law, the protection of citizens’ rights and a level playing-field for businesses are indispensable. This is a shared commitment, both at the international level and in our Partnership. We welcomed the creation in March 2011 of an independent EU-Russia civil society forum and we have asked the Russian party to support it. It is important that they fulfil their role engaging the societies in these modernisation efforts.
We believe that strengthening the rule of law is not "business as usual". It is very important tool for bringing Russia's and Europe's people closer together, and also for deeper economic ties.
On visa liberalization, we welcomed the progress made. Honouring our agreement of last year on the approach to take, the EU and Russia have been negotiating the Common Steps towards a visa-free regime since April, and we have made progress.
We are also pleased by the launch of a Migration Dialogue in May, which will contribute to finding solutions for shared migration issues.
We also took stock of progress in the negotiations on Russia’s WTO accession which is a further key to successful modernisation. We believe that Russian WTO accession is still possible this year. But for this to be possible Russia and the European Union will engage in sustain discussions over the coming weeks with the view to reach an agreement at the political level before the summer holidays, including on issues like quotas, sanitarian and phyto-sanitarian measures, investments regime for the automotive industry.
We also spoke about energy matters; in fact there has been progress in the Energy Dialogue. I stressed that a reliable and rules-based energy framework remains a key priority. It enhances predictability and sustainability, which are common interests. In the light of recent developments, and following discussions we also had in G8 in Deauville on nuclear safety, I can tell you that we are happy that Russia and the EU agreed to work within the IAEA to revise the International Convention on Nuclear Safety and adopt stringent safety standards. As you know, the EU just started work on stress testing of its nuclear plants, and we discussed ways on how Russia can also commit to this process.
Regarding this issue of vegetables, we are happy that we have agreed that the ban of vegetables from the European Union will be lifted, that the system of certification of the vegetables' safety by the European Commission will be put in place without any delay and details on this certificate will be finalised as soon as possible with the Russian Federation services and the European Commission services.
I mentioned just one of many areas because it is indeed a very broad agenda, the agenda we have between Russia and the European Union. But my point is clear: we are delivering on that agenda. Our discussions and the excellent atmosphere in which they took place show that our partnership is bearing fruit. Like trusted friends, we speak frankly and constructively, including on topics where there may be some differences - because our interdependence is really a reality.
So once again let me very sincerely thank President Medvedev and our hosts, not only for their kind hospitality but also for the spirit of the talks we had that were indeed important for the progress in our very good relationship.