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A joint meeting of the Russian government and the European Commission opened here on Wednesday
A joint meeting of the Russian government and the European Commission, the first ever in the history of relations of the European Union (EU) and Russia, opened here on Wednesday. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and Jose Manuel Barroso, head of the European Commission, are taking part in it, together with the key ministers of the Russian government and their European counterparts. Jose Manuel Barroso said on Tuesday that the joint meeting was evidence of the desire of the European Commission to achieve progress in all the spheres of cooperation with Russia. He said we should pass over from declarations to concrete projects in power engineering, in countering common challenges, in the struggle against the warming of the climate and in promoting human contacts. All aspects of relations between Russia and the European Union, new spheres of cooperation and the problems, that remain unresolved, are planned to be discussed at an expanded meeting and at bilateral talks of Russian ministers with commissars of the European Commission, a source in the Russian delegation told Itar-Tass. The problems that remain unresolved include the situation of the Russian-speaking minorities in the Baltic countries, transit across the Kaliningrad Region, the problem of the subsidising of European goods and the taking in Europe of anti-dumping measures against some Russian goods. The problem of the transit of Russian gas across the territory of Ukraine could also be raised at the meeting. It has been suggested to start cooperation in four new spheres within the framework of the “road map” plans, including agriculture, the industrial policy, intellectual property, as well as the scientific and technological sphere. The Russian delegation includes Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Minister of Industry and Energy Viktor Khristenko, Minister for Economic Development Gherman Gref, Minister of Transport Igor Levitin, Minister of Education and Science Andrei Fursenko, Minister of Agriculture Alexei Gordeyev and Minister of Information Technologies and Telecommunications Leonid Reiman. Russian and EU officials will discuss the completion of talks on the easing of the visa regime and on the re-admission (the agreements on those problems are planned to be signed in mid-2006), as well as promising projects in the sphere of energy. Specifically, they will discuss the unification of the CIS and EU power networks. The drafting of a new agreement on partnership and cooperation will be another issue to be discussed at the meeting. The basic cooperation agreement, which is in effect today, expires in 2007. Russia insists on the drafting of a new agreement, because the existing one has become obsolete. Fradkov is going to meet on Wednesday his Belgian counterpart Guy Verhofstadt and to discuss with him some problems of the relationship between Russia and EU, as well as problems of bilateral Russian-Belgian cooperation, including in the sphere of culture, trade, energy and space exploration.
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