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EP critical of Russian human rights record, hopeful on trade cooperation

External relations - 13-12-2006 - 14:40
Plenary sessions
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MEPs adopted a resolution today on the EU-Russia held in Helsinki on 24 November. The document is critical of human rights abuses in the country, especially in the field of torture and the freedom of expression. At the same time, the House welcomes the agreement on overflight rights in Siberia and urges closer cooperation on energy issues.

The joint resolution adopted today "stresses the importance of unity and solidarity among the Member States" in its relations with Russia, while at the same time insisting "that the European Union show the necessary solidarity with all Member States, in particular Poland, which is suffering discrimination under Russia's trade policy."
 
MEPs noted that "the current situation in Russia gives rise to serious concern as regards respect for human rights, democracy, freedom of expression and the rights of civil society and individuals to challenge and hold the authorities accountable for their action." In particular, the Parliament is concerned "about the use of torture in Russian prisons and police stations and in secret detention centres in Chechnya," as well as about the "continuing series of murders of prominent persons, such as Anna Politkovskaya, who oppose the current Russian government." The resolution also "expresses serious concern at the measures implemented by Russia against Georgia" and calls on the Russian authorities to "stop the ongoing repression of ethnic Georgians living in Russia."
 
At the same time, the House "welcomes the agreement reached at the Summit to phase out the fees Russia charges EU airlines flying over Siberia," which clears one of the last hurdles to EU support for Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The resolution also "underlines the strategic importance of cooperation on energy [...] with the objective of avoiding oligopolistic market structures and diversifying the European Union's energy supply."
 
The debate on the resolution took place during the last plenary in Brussels, on 29 November. The main focus of the discussion was the Russian embargo on Polish meat products, and the recent murders of Anna Politkovskaya and Alexander Litvinenko, both outspoken opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
 
REF.: 20061207IPR01153

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