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Wednesday, 8 June 2011 - Strasbourg OJ edition

EU-Russia summit (debate)

  Kristiina Ojuland, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, we hope that further progress will be made at the summit in Nizhny Novgorod with regard to a new and comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.

Both the EU and Russia must keep in mind that a true partnership can only be a straightforward relationship. On behalf of the ALDE Group, I would like to invite the representatives of the EU to address all the concerns raised by the European Parliament with their Russian counterparts.

The European Union will face major difficulties in relations with Russia unless the two partners rely on the same values and principles. If the Kremlin moves even further away from democracy and the rule of law, Russia will lose all legitimacy as a partner to the EU.

For example, the Kremlin has prevented a number of political parties from registering for the State Duma elections on procedural grounds, and the list is likely to be extended to include the People’s Freedom Party led by Mikhail Kasyanov, Vladimir Milov, Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Ryzhkov. The surging suppression of the opposition must be brought up at the summit and the opposition parties must be allowed to register.

Ladies and gentlemen, Russia is not China. Russia is a member of the Council of Europe and the OSCE; therefore, she must uphold her international commitments and obligations. Furthermore, Russia must abide by her own constitution.

Russia has to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbours. We insist that she stops pressuring Ukraine – as my colleague said just now – for example, as Prime Minister Putin did yesterday when he met the Prime Minister of Ukraine, pressing them to join the customs union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. We cannot accept this. We expect Russia to withdraw its troops immediately from Georgia to the pre-conflict positions.

Lastly, the ALDE Group is very disappointed that, on the eve of the summit, Russia has imposed a disproportional import ban on vegetables from the EU.

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