TODAY.AZ / Politics

Russia warns EU over ex-Soviet sphere of influence

07 February 2007 [08:30] - TODAY.AZ
Russia warned the European Union on Tuesday not to tread on its toes in ex-Soviet areas that Moscow regards as being within its sphere of influence.

The EU is seeking a major role in efforts to settle "frozen conflicts" in the separatist regions of Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan, where Russia is already acting as a mediator.

Sergei Yastrzhembsky, Russian President Vladimir Putin's special representative on EU relations, said it was natural for the bloc to take a greater interest as it enlarges eastwards, bringing its borders closer to these conflict zones.

"If you want to make a contribution to finding an effective form of resolving these conflicts, let's do it together without creating problems for each other and not acting behind the other's back," he told a news conference.

"The EU is, in principle, in agreement with this but on the ground it does not always work out that way."

An EU official said that with Romania now an EU member, the bloc shared a border with Moldova, scene of a long-running conflict between the government and Moscow-backed separatists.

"The more the EU enlarges, the more we have a common neighbourhood," said the official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity.

He said the EU expected Russia to be a "responsible actor" in the conflict zones and to respect each country's territorial integrity.

The EU and Russia differ on how best to bring lasting peace to the frozen conflicts. Brussels puts the emphasis on territorial integrity while Moscow stresses the separatists' right to self-determination.

Moscow and Brussels are also at odds over energy supplies and trade. A row with Poland over meat imports has halted the start of negotiations on an EU-Russia partnership pact. Reuters


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