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  Saturday, December 7, 2019
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Problems in Russia's relations with some EU countries should not affect interaction with the EU overall
Problems in Russia's relations with some EU countries should not affect interaction with the EU overall, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said ahead of the Russia-EU summit in Samara on the Volga May 17-18. "Russia-EU relations cannot be held hostage to problems arising in Russia's relations with certain EU members," Mikhail Kamynin said in an interview with RIA Novosti. German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier will arrive in Moscow Tuesday to tie up loose ends ahead of the summit. Ahead of his visit he said it is critical to "return to positions based on common sense," adding that the guiding principle would be sensible "proposals instead of rebukes." Commenting on the situation around Poland's veto on the start of negotiations between Moscow and Brussels on a new cooperation agreement, Kamynin said the issue was being discussed at the expert level. "Russia has already made specific proposals to resolve the issue," he said. But the European Commission said previously it had received a letter from the Russian agriculture minister reiterating Moscow's refusal to lift its ban on meat imports from Poland a week before a Russia-EU summit. The meat ban introduced in 2005 is hampering negotiations on a new Russia-EU partnership deal to replace the current 1997 agreement, which expires in December. The European Commission's vice-president, Gunter Verheugen, said last Thursday the Commission expected Russia to give a clear signal and an exact schedule for lifting the embargo, even if time-phased. Kamynin said another problem that is being actively discussed with the EU is the relocation of a WWII Soviet-era monument from central Tallinn, Estonia. "Russia is categorically against any review of the outcome of World War II. It must be remembered that Nazism was only defeated by collective efforts," he said. The decision by Estonia, an EU member since 2004, to remove the Bronze Soldier monument from the center of Tallinn to a military cemetery on the outskirts and exhume the remains of the soldiers buried underneath sparked violent protests from the ex-Soviet Baltic republic's ethnic Russian community.
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