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Russia's agriculture minister said Friday the problem of meat supplies from the European Union to Russia had been settled
Russia's agriculture minister said Friday the problem of meat supplies from the European Union to Russia had been settled. Meat sales became a stumbling block in relations between Moscow and the 27-nation bloc when Russia imposed a yearlong ban on meat from EU member Poland. Warsaw vetoed the start of talks on a new strategic Russia-EU partnership treaty in November 2006 in protest against the embargo. Speaking on the sidelines of the Green Week 2007 agricultural tradeshow in the German capital, Alexei Gordeyev said: "We trust the European Commission and therefore believe the problem has been settled." Gordeyev said a document guaranteeing the EU would not export produce to Russia that is not permitted for sale on European markets because of health risks would be signed later in the day. Moscow accused Poland of re-exporting products from third countries to Russia, while insisting that it has no claims against Polish meat. Moscow banned meat supplies from Poland in late 2005. Meat supplies from the EU have also recently been threatened by concerns over meat exported by Romania and Bulgaria, EU members since January 1, where veterinary diseases have been reported annually. Russia sought bilateral agricultural accords with EU states to deter health risks. In late December, Russian and European veterinary and agricultural officials agreed that the EU should guarantee the quality of meat supplies and ban supplies from Romania and Bulgaria. "There is a whole order of veterinary diseases in Bulgaria and Romania," Gordeyev said. "There are no internal borders between EU countries, which form a single economic space, and we sought guarantees that banned produce from Romania and Bulgaria would not be exported to Russia via third EU countries," Gordeyev said. Gordeyev said Russia could impose restrictions if its health requirements for imported produce were violated, and promised to step up veterinary controls at border checkpoints. But Russia's ambassador to Germany said the problem had been intentionally politicized. Vladimir Kotenev suggested Poland's concerns were largely about the Energy Charter, in which European nations demand free access to Russia's oil and gas deposits and export pipelines in a bid to reduce dependence and ensure uninterrupted supplies. Earlier, Poland's conditions for the launch of talks on the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement - designed to encourage closer cooperation in trade, justice, external security and research, which is set to expire in late 2007 - also included Moscow's ratification of the Energy Charter. Russia has refused to ratify the energy deal, citing export security concerns.
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