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    RUSSIA INTERESTED IN STRENGTHENING EU INTERNATIONAL POSITIONS

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    MOSCOW, February 19, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - Russia is interested in the expansion and constitutional reform of the European Union to pass unimpeded and end up with the consolidation of the EU and the strengthening of its positions in the international arena.

    This is said in the article authored by Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and released in the Germany newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Thursday.

    In the opinion of Igor Ivanov, implementation of the "Greater Europe" project largely depends on the formation of the new world order.

    For Russia, which is an independent player in the international arena with its own geopolitical interest, European is among the priority directions, emphasised the Russian foreign minister.

    "By virtue of the objective reasons of the historic, geographic, military-political, economic, cultural and spiritual character, the EU member states and Russia, overcoming the cold-war barriers, have opened up a new perspective oriented towards the development of equitable mutually beneficial cooperation," said the minister.

    To him, Russia-EU cooperation experiences problems, particularly when real economic interests collide.

    "The main thing is that, despite all the arising problems, we have not during these years abandoned the strategic goal of the comprehensive development of cooperation and interaction between Russia and the European Union fully aware that in the present-day world globalisation is fully in line with our interests", Igor Ivanov said.

    The Russian foreign minister added that Russia is interested in the elaboration of joint approaches to matters where Russia and the EU differ. They are - the Kyoto Protocol, human rights in Chechnya, freedom of the media, dues for transSiberian projects, nuclear and maritime safety, position of the Russian-speakers in Latvia and Estonia.

    Nevertheless, Russia adheres to the basic universal and European values, the main being "the final and irrevocable choice of freedom".

    "On this basis our country will continue, with regard for its national interest, consistently to steer towards the building up of a truly strategic partnership with the European Union," noted the head of the Russian foreign policy establishment.

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