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    EU FOREIGN MINISTERS TO DISCUSS RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA IN BRUSSELS

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    BRUSSELS, February 23, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Alexander Shishlo) - Relations with Russia will be one of the issues, which will be discussed at the session of the Foreign Ministers of the incumbent and future member-countries of the European Union in Brussels on February 23-24.

    As RIA Novosti was told by an anonymous source in the European Commission, the Council of the European Union for the general and foreign policy will discuss, in particular, the ways to intensify cooperation on implementing concrete agreements, which were reached at the latest Russia-EU summit in Rome. They are aimed at the integration between the Russian Federation and the member-countries of the European Union in the sphere of the economy, security, science and culture.

    However, according to the information of the spokesman for the European Union, the leadership of this collective organisation hopes that Moscow will agree to spread the bilateral treaty of the EU with the Russian Federation to the ten new members of the European Union.

    Brussels hopes that Moscow will sign with the future EU countries a general protocol to the agreement in force, which expands its borders.

    Beginning with May 1, this year, the European Union will be joined by Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

    According to the source in the European Commission, if Moscow refuses to agree with the European Union's proposal, Brussels does not exclude the possibility of revising the basic agreement on cooperation with the Russian Federation. As was pointed out by the spokesman for the European Union's executive power, the use of reply limitation measures is possible, but he did not specify them.

    As to the process of the European Union's expansion, this is a purely internal affair, which concerns only this organisation, the source said.

    Other items on the agenda of the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the European Union's countries will be a settlement of the Cyprus problem, the situation in the Western Balkan countries, in the Middle East, in Afghanistan and in Iran.

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