Herman Quarles, spokesman for the Dutch Secretary of State on European Affairs, said in a RIA Novosti interview that President Putin's words were important and deserved a thorough study. The Netherlands will hold the rotating EU chairmanship from July to the end of 2004.
EU-Russia relations become increasingly important and they will get more still important when the EU enlarges to admit new members in May 2004, said Mr Quarles.
The Dutch foreign ministry is outlining political guidelines for the EU for the period of Holland's chairmanship. "Russia-related issues will be prominent on the EU agenda this year," emphasised the Dutch diplomat.