To ensure that the partnership agreement will function without any interruption, the protocol will come into force when it is signed, said Mr. Picket. He told reporters that Russia's concerns over EU expansion would be addressed this month. Mr. Picket admitted that most of Russia's concerns are expected and justified and that discussions are routine just like discussions between the EU and Japan, Australia, and the United States.
Some aspects, in particular nuclear fuel trade, will require additional discussions after May 1, said Mr. Picket. Relevant talks between Moscow and client countries will continue after the joint statement is signed.
He reported that Romano Prodi, the president of the European Commission, would be in Moscow on April 22-23. Eight commissars responsible for cooperation with Russia will accompany Mr. Prodi.
The forthcoming talks will also focus on the program for developing four common spaces between the EU and Russia (economic, internal and external security, education, and research), which was adopted at the EU-Russia summit in St. Petersburg.
Mr. Picket stressed that work is underway in the economic space, but efforts concerning the three other spaces are still being developed.
The coming visit is aimed at intensifying every aspect of Russia-EU partnership.
Mr. Picket said that a joint session of the Russian government and the European Commission would be held in Moscow for the first time.
He said that in 2002, representatives of the European Commission and Russian ministers in charge of Russia-EU cooperation participated in a similar session in Brussels.