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    MOST ISSUES THAT WORRIED RUSSIA OVER EU EXPANSION ARE SETTLED - LAVROV

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    DUBLIN, April 14 (RIA Novosti's Anna Bobina) - Most of the issues that worried Russia in connection with the coming expansion of the European Union are already settled, said Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. On Wednesday he will take part in a meeting with the EU's troika in Dublin.

    "We had 14 main concerns, and most of them are now resolved," the minister said.

    At the same time Lavrov indicated that still outstanding are the issues of cargo transit to the Kaliningrad region (a Russian enclave on the Baltic), deliveries of Russian nuclear fuel to the countries acceding to the EU, and the rights of the Russian-speaking population in the Baltic countries.

    "As regards economic matters, I think most of them are already decided, and the figure given by German Gref - that nearly 90 per cent of them are solved - is roughly right," Lavrov said.

    "Concerning unsettled questions, that of nuclear fuel supplies, according to the foreign minister, will not be much of a problem.

    (Russia supplies practically 100 per cent of nuclear fuel for power plants in Eastern Europe countries that are joining the EU. But restrictions contained in the European Union documents to be applied to these countries may lead to a heavy reduction of such supplies.) On the issue of Kaliningrad transit Lavrov indicated that this problem does not have a simple solution. "We should seek a solution proceeding from common sense, Russian interests, and the interests of the European Union and Lithuania. I hope we will succeed," the minister replied.

    Lavrov pointed out that Moscow is most concerned by the rights of ethnic minorities in the Baltic countries, which are joining the EU.

    "We are asking one thing only - that all countries entering the EU should confirm that they will take note of the obligations stemming from the European convention on the rights of ethnic minorities and human rights in general," the minister noted. "We are not asking anything which is over and above what the Europeans themselves enshrined in their documents," he added.

    Lavrov described as paradoxical the situation when, in accordance with the legislation of the European Union, any citizen of Portugal, France or other EU member country will be able to travel to a Baltic state, reside there half a year and obtain the right to take part in electing municipal authorities of that country, while "people who were born and are living in that state, and want to be law-abiding citizens, would have their rights infringed upon." "We are insisting therefore that all conventions which Europe itself has worked out for ordinary people should also be obligatory for 'newcomers'," the Russian foreign minister said.

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