EU-Russia ties to be strengthened under certain conditions, says European Parliament

Climate change, energy security and a new general cooperation agreement between the two blocs are among the topics that the Swedish Presidency should discuss with Russia at the upcoming Stockholm summit on 18 November. MEPs are concerned about the human rights situation in Russia (the EP recently awarded its Sakharov Prize to the Russian human rights organisation Memorial), says a resolution adopted by show of hands on Thursday.

Parliament insists that safeguarding of human rights should be a key item on the agenda for the EU-Russia Summit and part of the new EU-Russia agreement.

Parliament’s decision to award the 2009 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to the Russian civil rights defence organisation Memorial illustrates MEPs’ concerns about the lack of independence of the judiciary, increased state control of the media and the inability of police and judicial authorities to find those responsible for the murders of journalists and human rights defenders.

MEPs condemn the brutal assassination of Maksharip Aushev, a popular human rights activist and an opposition figure, who was shot dead in Ingushetia. The murderers of Natalia Estemirova, Andrei Kulagin, Zarema Sadulayeva, Alik Dzhabrailov, Maksharip Aushev, Stanislav Markelov, Anastasiya Baburova and Anna Politkovskaya must be found and brought to justice, reiterates Parliament.

On climate change, Parliament calls on Russia to reconsider its request for a rising emissions target, in keeping with its large mitigation potential and the IPCC recommendations, with a view to facilitating an agreement in Copenhagen.

PCA and WTO

The conclusion of a new general framework for political and commercial relations (Partnership and Co-operation Agreement) remains of the upmost importance, says the resolution. With this in view, MEPs reiterate their support for Russia to join the WTO. This would help substantially to improve economic relations between the EU and Russia. The current PCA expired end of 2007.

Russia is asked to remove the remaining obstacles to its WTO accession, namely Russian export duties, the level of railway fees for goods in transit through Russia, road charges on goods vehicles and the restrictions on imports of meat, milk and plant products.

Early-warning mechanism on energy security

Parliament highlights the importance of establishing an early-warning mechanism with Russia on energy security covering notification, consultation and implementation. MEPs call on the Presidency and the Commission to work with the Russian authorities, Gazprom, the Ukrainian authorities and Naftohaz Ukrainy to avoid any repetition of the supply shut-offs that have occurred in recent years.

Russia’s recent decision to withdraw its signature from the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) complicates relations and raises concerns regarding the ongoing energy dialogue and future developments.

On Georgia and its breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Parliament points out that the European Union Monitoring Mission, which has a country-wide mandate, has so far been denied unhindered access to these regions.

MEPs also ask the Presidency and Russia to address topical international and regional issues such the Iranian nuclear issue, Afghanistan, South Caucasus and the Middle East. The frozen conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistria should also be addressed, they say.

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