EU commissioner to strike out at Russia
11.09.13 @ 13:12
BRUSSELS - EU neighbourhood commissioner Stefan Fuele is planning to criticise Russia's strong-arm tactics on would-be EU partners in a speech to MEPs on Wednesday (11 September).
The rebuke comes after Armenia suddenly dropped plans to sign a political association and free trade pact with the EU in November.
It also comes amid Russian trade blockades on Moldova and Ukraine, as well as harsh rhetoric from senior politicians, such as Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin, who last week threatened to cut off Moldova's gas in winter if it goes down the EU path.
Fuele is expected to complain about abuse of gas prices and import bans.
In an allusion to Russia's military support for Armenia, he will criticise Russia's threat to suspend security guarantees.
In an allusion to Rogozin's other remarks - on making it harder for Moldova to solve its frozen conflict with Transniestria - Fuele will also hit out against Russia's exploitation of old conflicts.
He plans to repeat a previous EU statement that threats from Russia linked to the possible signing of agreements with the European Union are "unacceptable."
He also aims to say this is "not how international relations should function" in Europe in the 21st century, because post-Soviet nations should be free to decide whether or not to integrate with the EU.
Fuele's speech underlines that neighbouring states cannot sign EU free trade zone pacts at the same time as joining Russia's Customs Union because of "legal impossibilities."
It says the EU free trade zones will boost neighbours' GDP by up to 12 percent.
At the same time, Fuele is to note there are legal ways to make EU free trade "compatible" with the Customs Union, with a final goal to create a free trade zone which also encompasses Russia, stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostock.
"The last thing we want to see is a protectionist wall cutting our continent in two," Fuele is to say.