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The leaders of Russia and the European Union member states will for the first time discuss their relations within the context of the "roadmaps" approved at the EU-Russia summit held in Moscow in May 2005
At the sixteenth EU-Russia summit, which will be held on October 4 in London, the leaders of Russia and the European Union member states will for the first time discuss their relations within the context of the "roadmaps" approved at the EU-Russia summit held in Moscow in May 2005. These "roadmaps" anticipate the gradual creation of four common spaces in EU-Russia relations: economic; freedom, security and justice; external security; and research, science and education. The establishment of these common spaces is a long-term strategic aim and it will be too early to assess the success or otherwise of this objective in London. Instead, the summit participants will most likely discuss specific measures to implement each of the roadmaps and agree timescales for their implementation. Among the pressing issues that have not yet been resolved is easing visa restrictions for certain categories of Russian and EU citizens. Russia has already agreed on less stringent visa regulations with Germany, Italy and France. However, Brussels is insisting that an EU-Russia agreement on readmission be signed simultaneously. This would require Russia to commit to accepting deported immigrants that had illegally entered the EU from Russian territory. Russia is willing to accept its own citizens but not citizens of other countries, who arrived in EU illegally via Russia. Moreover, Moscow is entirely reasonably pointing out that the Russian borders with the new states that emerged after the disintegration of the Soviet Union are permeable. Securing these borders will take time and, most importantly, will require vast expenditure. However, if these two agreements are not signed, there is a risk that the "roadmap" toward freedom, security and justice will fall by the wayside. There is another crucial issue that the summit will most likely address, and on which the fate of the "roadmap" toward a common external security space is largely dependent. This is the question of whether the EU and Russia could coordinate their policy with respect to the European and Caucasian countries that belong to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). If they cannot, then it seems that these countries will continue to be drawn into a game of tug-of-war, with the EU holding one end of the rope and Russia the other. The recent events in Ukraine demonstrated that such a game is unproductive both for Russia and for the EU, and indeed for Ukraine itself. What is now required is a constructive approach in EU-Russia policy toward their common neighbours. Somewhat surprisingly, the extremely important issue of EU-Russia energy cooperation was sidelined during the recent summits. Yet it is time that the parties assessed progress in implementation of the energy cooperation program that was agreed at the EU-Russia summit in Rome in November 2003. Energy will obviously be firmly back on the agenda in London next month. The British oil companies that are actively participating in the exploration of Russian oil deposits will no doubt contribute to this. The London summit will also discuss, for the first time, the "2007 problem". On November 30, 2007, the EU-Russia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) will expire. Until fairly recently, both Brussels and Moscow believed that the agreement would automatically be extended year on year until one of the parties - and in practice, both parties - felt that it should be replaced with a new agreement. But since 2004, first Moscow and then Brussels spoke of the necessity of drawing a new agreement. Firstly, the agreement signed in 2004 does not reflect the enormous changes that have taken place lately in Russia, the EU, and the world. Secondly, Russia and the EU have accumulated a wealth of experience of practical cooperation and have chosen the course of strategic partnership, including the creation of four common spaces. All of these should be reflected in the key agreement governing EU-Russia relations. In addition, the summit participants will exchange views on a number of burning international issues, including the progress and the likely outcomes of the negotiations with Iran and North Korea over their nuclear programs, the situation in Iraq, the developments in Palestinian-Israeli relations, and the fight against international terrorism. Yury Borko is a professor at the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
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