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Russian, EU Leaders Discuss Energy, Security


Energy and security dominated the Russia-EU Summit in Western Siberia, where Kremlin leader Dmitri Medvedev called for creation of all-European institutions to replace long-standing structures, including NATO. VOA Moscow Correspondent Peter Fedynsky reports.

European Union leaders held their first meeting with Dmitri Medvedev in his capacity as Kremlin leader in the western Siberian town of Khanti Mansiysk, which pumps oil and gas for Europe and supplies Russia with much of its newfound energy wealth.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso acknowledged EU dependence on Russian energy during a joint news conference at the end of the two-day summit.

"Russia will remain a key energy supplier for the European Union, and the European Union will remain Russia's most important export market," he said. "In other words we are, and I believe in the future will continue to be, even more interdependent. Our common goal, therefore, should be to make this a win-win situation."

All sides agreed to meet in Brussels on July 4 for talks on a new EU-Russian cooperation agreement. President Medvedev said the new accord should serve as a brief framework for relations and should not go into excessive details. The current agreement between Moscow and Brussels is 11 years old.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said contemporary challenges, including climate change, terrorism, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction cannot be resolved without EU and Russian participation. Solana also praised President Medvedev for helping the European Union hold talks with Iran. He added that Brussels would cooperate with Moscow in the Middle East, and would also help resolve so-called frozen conflicts that fester in areas of the former Soviet Union.

"We've talked about Georgia and we are going to cooperate about that; we've talked about Moldova and we're going to cooperate about that; we've talked about Middle East - important issue - and in that I would like to say that the cooperation of Moscow - of the Russian Federation - is fundamental," he said.

In an apparent attempt to increase Russian influence in Europe at the expense of the United States, President Medvedev said it is banal but true that the continent is the common home of all who live there.

The Russian leader says security responsibilities should not be passed onto neighbors. He says all European security issues, including missile defense and the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty should be decided collectively.

Russia rejects Washington's argument that a proposed Central European missile defense system is designed to guard against an Iranian attack. Angered by Washington's push for the system, Moscow has suspended its participation in the CFE treaty, which limits the amount of conventional weapons a signatory can deploy in Europe.

Mr. Medvedev reiterated his proposal for talks to create a new universal European security structure, saying all of Europe's existing institutions are limited or outdated. These include NATO, which has expanded closer to Russia, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has criticized Russian election procedures.

Russian officials say Moscow may host its next EU-Russian summit even deeper in Asia.

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