Speaking at the conference "The Expanding Europe: New Agenda" in Bratislava, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Chizhov acknowledged several problems in Russia-EU relations in connection with the forthcoming EU expansion (new members will join the European Union on May 1, 2004: the three Baltic states, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Malta and Cyprus). "However, I hope that our mutual striving for a compromise will help us find a mutually beneficial solution, in particular, in respect of the extension of the partnership and cooperation agreement on new EU member-states," Chizhov said.
"Russia is building its relations with the EU on a solid basis of strategic partnership, however, natural tensions are inevitable. They are caused by problems of Russia and EU internal development and clashes of real economic interests," the Russian deputy foreign minister noted. In his words, these tensions also emerge from the process of Russia-EU rapprochement.
"We do not dramatize them and hope for a compromise solution. The main thing is that in spite of temporary hardships, Russia and the European Union do not deviate from the final goal of their cooperation, the provision of real security of European people," Mr. Chizhov stressed.
"The expansion means not only growing possibilities for the common market and common space with 450 million population but also the increasing responsibility to united Europe. The new external border of the European Union should not turn into a demarcation line," he noted.
"Therefore, the building of united and prosperous Europe, free from the burdens of the past and demarcation lines, is one of the main trends of Russia's foreign policy," Vladimir Chizhov concluded.