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    IRELAND'S MINISTER FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS CONSIDERS RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA AS MOST IMPORTANT FOR EU

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    THE HAGUE, February 2. /RIA Novosti Alexander Dobrovolsky/. Relations with Russia are most important for the European Union, said State Minister of Ireland for European Affairs Dick Roche, speaking at the Netherlands Clingendal Institute in The Hague on Monday. In his speech he singled out transatlantic relations and relations with Russia and the UN as the main strategic directions in EU foreign policy, which will be in the focus of Ireland's attention during the term of its presidency in this union of European states.

    According to Roche, EU-Russia relations are to become an object of special talks in the near future. The EU should to a definite extent re-orient itself onto Russia in connection with the upcoming joining of the EU by new members, many of which have firm economic ties with the Russian Federation.

    Besides, the minister said, Ireland considers its support for the idea of a multi-polar world, in which the central role is to be played by the United Nations, as one of its chief foreign policy goals during EU presidency.

    Ireland is to preside in the European Union during the first six months of 2004, after which the EU will be headed by the Netherlands.

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