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    FRADKOV DENIES RUMORS CONCERNING WORSENING OF RELATIONS BETWEEN RUSSIA AND EU

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    MOSCOW, March 2, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - The rumors are all wrong that Russia and the European Union have fallen out, reassures Mikhail Fradkov, prime-ministerial nominee.

    "Whatever talk there is about their relations spoilt is a pack of lies," he said to a Liberal Democratic MP's query. "A confrontation is sheer delusion created by the media, and because Russia is getting tougher, and more efficient and outspoken in its contacts with the European Union." He described Russia-EU relations as "constructive dialogue", in which to promote its own interests as much as possible, is Russia's main goal. Either Party is anxious to settle problems bred by EU expansion as another ten countries are about to join it. "If we cope with those problems, our contacts with the EU will be spectacularly upgraded," said Mr. Fradkov. The EU will account for a half of Russia's foreign trade turnover, as against present-day 36 per cent, since May 1-that is, after the post-Soviet Baltics and several East European countries become full-fledged Union members.

    Mikhail Fradkov was in his own element, while discussing EU-related matters: Russian ambassador to the European Union was his previous appointment.

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