Speech: Presidency statement on EU-Russia Summit
European Commission - SPEECH/14/99 05/02/2014
Other available languages: none
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece
Presidency statement on EU-Russia Summit
European Parliament, Plenary Session
5 February 2014
I would like to thank you for tabling this important debate today.
Coreper discussed the outcome of the Summit with Russia last week, and expressed Member States' appreciation of the way this difficult Summit was prepared and handled. It was very important at this point in time to raise a number of fundamentals with Russia. We needed to pass a strong message that recent critical developments need to be addressed, in order to put this Strategic Partnership on a better track again.
This concerns our recent differences over the Eastern Partnership and Ukraine, as well as an increasing number of trade irritants. Russia should live up more consistently to its commitments – commitments made in the WTO, but also as regards human rights and fundamental freedoms.
There was a frank and open debate about these issues at the Summit. It is to be welcomed that Russia was ready to engage in such a discussion. We believe that Russia understands the challenges these developments pose for our relations, and that Russia has a strong interest to keep this partnership as constructive as possible.
Commissioner Füle, who spends so much time and effort working for the Eastern Partnership, will say more about these discussions and outcomes.
Let me just underline that both sides are very clear about their interdependence. The EU is Russia's largest trading partner by far, with 45% of all Russian external trade, and Russia is the EU's third most-important trading partner, after the US and China.
Security on our common continent and beyond can only be achieved if Russia and the EU cooperate closely. In this light, it is important to note that foreign policy cooperation between the EU and Russia was reviewed positively during this Summit. Both sides appreciated their good cooperation on the Iranian nuclear programme, and Russia congratulated the HR/VP Catherine Ashton for having personally steered the E3+3 talks so successfully. In order to come to a lasting solution now with Iran, it remains vital to continue this very good EU-Russia cooperation.
Also on Syria, we are now working much better together with Russia, in particular on the Geneva II conference. The EU emphasized the need to enable humanitarian assistance to ordinary Syrians.
Obviously, the situation in Ukraine played a big role during this Summit, but it was not the only issue. Russia had again proposed trilateral talks on Ukraine, but the EU did not accept that because our bilateral trade agreements must remain bilateral.
The Summit also adopted a joint statement on counter-terrorism cooperation.