To boost troubled economies:
EU leaders for warmer ties
RUSSIA : Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met EU leaders yesterday
for a summit aimed at putting aside past differences and focusing on
reviving trade and boosting troubled economies.
The Kremlin leader has put a warmer face on ties with the West in
recent months, and the summit in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don was
expected to demonstrate new-found pragmatism in relations between Moscow
and the European Union.
Previous summits under ex-President Vladimir Putin were often marred
by rows over thorny issues such as human rights.
“For once, there is no significant dispute outstanding, either
political or economic, between Russia and any of the EU member
countries,” said Chris Weafer, chief strategist at investment bank
During the summit, EU leaders hope to get Kremlin assurances on the
ailing euro, which accounts for nearly half of Russia’s currency
reserves. Moscow, for its part, needs more technology and investment as
part of Medvedev’s modernisation drive.
Two decades after the fall of the Iron Curtain, Russian officials
said they would also press for visa-free travel to Europe for Russian
Human rights could still overshadow the meeting.
On the eve of the summit, as Medvedev sat down for dinner with EU
President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose
Manuel Barroso, police used force to disperse anti-Kremlin rallies in
Moscow and St Petersburg.
In a letter published on Monday in The Moscow Times newspaper,
prominent figures including former Czech President Vaclav Havel and
Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu questioned Kremlin pledges to improve
the human rights situation.
“We ask Medvedev and urge the Russian government to protect people in
danger and to ensure quick and effective investigations into the murders
of human rights activists, journalists and independent-minded jurists,”
said the letter.
Rostov-On-Don, Tuesday, Reuters