MOSCOW, December 21 (RIA Novosti) - Energy cooperation issues should be outlined in the new partnership deal between Russia and the European Union, Germany's foreign minister said Thursday.
The Russia-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement will aim to encourage closer cooperation in trade, justice, external security and research. The current accord expires in 2007.
"The partnership agreement is a proper way of strengthening Russia-EU energy relations. It may fix new parameters of long-term and reliable supplies, and ecological aspects," Frank Walter Steinmeyer said after talks in Moscow with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.
Russia and the EU were set to begin talks on a new cooperation deal at the Russia-EU summit in Helsinki November 24, but the negotiations were vetoed by Poland, over Russia's ban on its meat exports, and Moscow's refusal to sign the Energy Charter.
Russia has been unwilling to ratify the charter, which was drawn up as a mechanism of cooperation between Western and Eastern Europe on energy issues and signed at The Hague in 1991, as the document would force it to give foreign investors free access to the country's oil and gas deposits and export pipelines.
The German foreign minister said that the mooted agreement could be discussed in detail only after the European Commission issues a mandate to the European Union to start the talks with Moscow.
Sergei Lavrov said in response that Russia, like Germany, is interested in starting talks on a new agreement as soon as possible.
"Russia is interested in an agreement on strategic partnership with the European Union, just as much as the whole European Union is interested in it. If our interests coincide, than we can launch the talks very soon," he said.