Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2007-05-09-Speech-3-044"

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"Mr President, Mr Gloser, Mr Verheugen, ladies and gentlemen, can we at once be firm where our values and principles are concerned and work closely on matters as crucial as energy, climate change, accession to the WTO, visa policy and cooperation in our shared neighbourhood? The answer to that question should not vary according to the partner about whom we are talking when we talk about the European Union’s relations with it. Yes, in its relations with Russia, Europe must adopt an open, dialogue-focused attitude, but it must also share its concerns – serious as they often are – on the subject of human rights and, in particular, on the subject of freedom of expression and of the treatment of minorities. Today, 9 May, we are commemorating the anniversary of the Schuman Declaration. What significance do these celebrations have if Europe, in its reunified form, is unable to uphold its humanist rights? In our relations with such a strategic partner as Russia, the latest developments in that country are a source of grave concern. Thus, my group feels that Moscow’s attitude after the movement, by the Estonian authorities, of a Soviet monument, is totally unacceptable. This act, on the part of Russia, is a genuine infringement of the sovereignty of an EU Member State, which requires us to react very seriously. That is what we have done today. Russia must not think that, by adopting such an attitude, it will succeed in dividing us: today, we are all Estonians. Furthermore, my group has unreservedly condemned the clampdowns on demonstrations in Moscow. It denounced the assassination, at the end of 2006, of the journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the repeated attacks on freedom of expression and also on freedom of the press. Finally, serious violations of human rights in the Chechen Republic, assassinations, forced disappearances, torture, hostage-taking and arbitrary detentions remain realities that the European Union must not accept. Ladies and gentlemen, on all of these subjects, the European Union has a duty to speak frankly and to obtain clarifications and, above all, a change in attitudes and policies. Our mutual duty is to create the conditions for balanced relations and to work towards establishing a stable geopolitical environment that is as harmonious as possible. The world has changed. We are no longer in an era of cold war, but of cooperation, of the creation of practical policies. These policies can only be beneficial for growth, jobs and the long-term stability of our continent. I call on the Commission and the Council to develop joint initiatives with Russia in an effort to step up security in the neighbourhood: co-management of the crises in Ukraine and Belarus and joint efforts to resolve the conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh, Moldova and Georgia, while guaranteeing the absolute territorial integrity of the States. I should also like the negotiations to be re-opened as soon as possible on a new EU-Russia framework agreement, insofar as Russia agrees to behave like a genuine partner. I congratulate the German Presidency on the intensive efforts that it is making to that end and I call on our Russian partners to stop putting economic pressure on our Member States. I should like to stress the importance of Russia’s acceding to the WTO in the near future. This accession will send out an important sign of confidence to investors, it will stimulate growth in Russia and also strengthen our trade, and it will force Russia to comply with the rules. However, the Union will only be able to support this development if it sees more of an improvement being made and calm in the relations. Let us not miss this opportunity! I should also like to stress that the strategic issue of energy talks with Russia is very important. I should like to congratulate Commissioner Piebalgs and the Russian energy minister on the agreement that was reached recently on the re-organisation of these talks. It is our duty, and it is in our common interests, to guarantee the security of supply and of the demand for energy in a context of increased interdependence. This cooperation – we emphasise this point – must be based on the principles laid down in the Energy Charter and, in particular, in the protocol on transit annexed to it. It is by taking such practical action to help the peoples of Russia and Europe that we will overcome our differences. It is by means of true dialogue that we are going to rise to the challenges of globalisation, the key aspects of which will emerge strengthened. I hope that we are going to strengthen them on a mutual basis."@en1

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