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Russia-EU summit: failure or success?
21.05.07
MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Vavra) –

Having failed to produce any documents, a regular Russia-EU summit has received contradictory assessments.
Some claim that the parties have arrived at a deadlock, whereas others think that progress is obvious because their resolve to continue the dialogue shows their readiness to remove all current differences and contradictions.
At any rate, on the eve of the summit the Russian side warned that the summit would not be a failure even if no agreements were signed. Both during the discussion and upon its completion, Vladimir Putin demonstrated his satisfaction with the summit’s work, listing its achievements on the border and customs issues, and in the fight against drug trafficking and other crimes. His partners also emphasized obvious progress in mutual relations.
Needless to say, diplomats are good at evasive and antiseptic phraseology but there is no doubt that the summit showed readiness for dialogue with a view to resolving disputable issues, which is the main thing.
In conditions of the inevitably growing cooperation and mutual influence both partners have to resolve their disputes. They cannot afford an alternative because they depend on each other too much. Perhaps they will move towards each other in very small steps, but their rapprochement is bound to take pace.
For this reason, the summit’s failure to produce important agreements is not a big problem. Dialogue always implies rapprochement and a desire to resolve the arising issues. At the same time, lack of understanding on major issues continues aggravating our relations.
On the one hand, there are facts and conclusive evidence, or rather their total absence, as in the case with Politkovskaya and Litvinenko. On the other hand, there is a negative image of the Russian authorities that portrays them as capable of any crimes.
The EU does not react to Putin’s words that it is inappropriate to blame the Russian authorities for their death until the investigation is over.
The summit has shown, for the umpteenth time now, that our European partners are turning a blind eye to double standards. Putin reprimanded them for finding fault with Russia and ignoring obviously inadmissible actions in the EU, but to no avail. Putin’s arguments do not impress the EU. They are probably good only for domestic consumption.
In relations with Russia, the EU is still using the friend-or-foe identification. In other words, rules of conduct within the EU are totally different from those for non-members. What is allowed in relations with allies is absolutely inadmissible towards others. In the former case, they display understanding, tolerance and a desire to accept mitigating circumstances; in the latter, they are making ostensibly unbiased demands.
The Russian government should actively oppose this friend-or-foe division of Europe. Unfortunately, Putin’s formal logic does not seem to work.
All kinds of accusations are addressed to the authorities, but they will not be able to deal with them single-handed. Non-governmental agencies and rank-and-file citizens should contribute to the effort. There is no other way to become friends.
It is very important that the Russian president is aware of this.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti. -0-