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    SWEDISH FOREIGN MINISTER: EU EXPANSION TO HAVE FAVORABLE INFLUENCE ON RUSSIA-EU RELATIONS

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    MOSCOW, March 2, 2004. (RIA Novosti). Sweden comes out for Russia's closer integration into European structures, Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds said speaking in the Russian Foreign Ministry's Diplomatic Academy on Tuesday.

    "The agreement on the formation of four common functional spaces achieved at the last year's summit in St. Petersburg opens good prospects for the development of Russia-EU relations," Freivalds said.

    According to her, the agreement implies the formation of common economic space, common space of freedom, security and justice, common space of internal security cooperation and common science and education space.

    The common plan of Russia-EU actions should reflect the progress in their relations and concentrate on practical cooperation issues. It should determine our strategic partnership in the next ten years, Freivalds noted.

    In her words, the forthcoming EU expansion will help it to consolidate relations and cooperation with new neighbors, in particular, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova. EU borders with Russia will grow twice, the Swedish Foreign Minister added.

    "New EU members will add their knowledge and experience of relations with Russia to our work. This is highly important both for the European Union and Russia," the minister said.

    Freivalds also pointed out the necessity to develop regional ties between EU and Russia.

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