BRUSSELS, JUNE 3 (RIA Novosti) - The European Commission is disappointed and surprised by the decision of the Russian authorities to suspend meat exports from EU members, Rejo Kemppinen, official spokesman for the EU higher executive body, has said on Thursday.

We find it hard to understand the arguments of the Russian authorities because our products are safe for consumption by people in the European Union and Russia, he said.

Our veterinary certificates are accepted by 148 members of the World Trade Organisation, Kemppinen stressed.

He said that EC Chairman Romano Prodi is going to discuss the situation with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov. EU Foreign Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy has already talked to Russian Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref, said the EC spokesman.

We are trying to convince the Russians that it is not in their interests to do so, Kemppinen said.

He spoke up for the lifting of the Russian ban on the import of meat from the EU countries and noted that it puts wrinkle on EU-Russia trade relations.

According to the EC spokesman, it is a 1.3 billion euros' annually worth export.

Kemppinen called unjustified the actions of the Russian side concerning the interests of "eleven to twelve" states of the European Union, including its veterans as well as newcomers.

He voiced the hope that the sides would soon come to a mutually acceptable settling of the problem emerging in the bilateral trade relations.

On May 1 the Russian Agricultural Ministry imposed single veterinary certificates for meat imports from member countries of the European Union. Since the certificates had not gained EU approval by that time, Russia has unilaterally introduced them, automatically discontinuing validity of the veterinary permissions efficient for each country. Thus, European meat imports have been put under a ban.

The Agricultural Ministry explains that the need of ban is due to the expansion of the European Union: on May 1 ten new countries became EU members - Poland, Hungary, Czechia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The altered European borders can, in the opinion of the Russian side, substantially change the general epizootic situation.

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