Russia was represented at this, the eighteenth Russia-EU summit, by President Vladimir Putin, while the European Union was represented by Matti Vanhanen, Prime Minister of Finland, which currently holds the EU presidency, President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, and EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana.
This was Mr Putin’s second meeting with the European Union leadership in the last month. Mr Putin also attended an informal meeting with the leaders of the EU member states in the Finnish town of Lahti on October 20. At that meeting, both sides agreed to move rapidly to begin official talks on drafting a new basic agreement to replace the Russia-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which expires on December 1, 2007.
It had been planned to announce the start of negotiations at the Helsinki summit, but shortly before the meeting, Poland vetoed the decision to accord the European Commission a mandate to start the talks, demanding that Russia ratify the European Energy Charter and lift restrictions on imports of Polish agricultural products.
Mr Putin explained in detail to his EU colleagues the situation regarding the ban on imports of meat and vegetables from Poland.
Mr Putin and the EU leadership examined progress made in the implementation of the roadmaps for creating the four common spaces – the economic space, internal and external security spaces and the common humanitarian space – and summed up the results of the implementation of the Joint Declaration on EU Enlargement and Russia-EU Relations, adopted on April 27, 2004. This document sets out the European Union’s political commitments to minimising the negative trade and economic consequences that EU enlargement could have for Russia’s interests. This issue is particularly relevant at the moment with Bulgaria and Romania set to join the EU in 2007.
During discussions of energy issues, Mr Putin gave a number of examples of successful cooperation between Russian and European companies in the area of asset swaps.
Mr Putin reiterated that Moscow will not sign the Energy Charter in its current form and stressed the importance of continuing the energy dialogue.