EU and Russia: towards closer relations
Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, and José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, in Yekaterinburg
© European Union
The 31st EU-Russia summit took place in Yekaterinburg on 3 and 4 June 2013. The meeting proved to be a useful opportunity to take stock of the relationship, to cover a range of topical issues and to look ahead towards ever closer relations.
In addition to sharing a common continent and history, the EU and Russia are, as President Van Rompuy stated at the press conference, both strategic and global partners. Our common aim, he added, is "to reap the full potential of the strategic partnership". There is a lot to be gained from working together, not only in relation to economic issues, but also as regards security and stability, including at the global level.
The importance of economic and trade relations between the EU and Russia continues to grow and our economies are becoming increasingly interconnected. Russia is the EU's third most important trading partner and bilateral trade increased both in 2011 and 2012 by more than 10%. Both partners share the goals of reforming financial institutions and getting the global economy back on track for growth and jobs. In this context, President Van Rompuy stressed that the EU fully supports Russia's G20 chairmanship.
The EU and Russia cooperate closely on a number of challenges such as the situation in Syria and the Iranian nuclear programme. On Syria, the EU welcomes the initiative for a Geneva II conference and is ready to give full support "to this very important political peace process".
At the summit, President Van Rompuy also raised the need to strengthen cooperation on security in Europe, starting with the conflicts in the common neighbourhood. In particular, he called on the need for a comprehensive settlement of the Transnistria conflict.
Referring to the important dialogue in the area of human rights, President Van Rompuy stressed the important role of civil society and NGOs and their contribution to the strengthening of democracy. This, he added, should be recognised by legislative frameworks, which ought to protect the space for civil society to operate.
At the summit, and in the context of the fight against illicit drugs, the EU and Russia also signed an agreement on drug precursors.
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