Sunday

21st Jan 2018

EU and Russia see eye-to-eye on Hamas

Russia and the EU are framing a joint position on relations with the Palestinian unity government, as divisions on the subject with the US and Israel deepen, a senior Russian diplomat has said.

Russia's ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, told press in Brussels on Tuesday (7 June) that EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov are aiming to put out a joint communique on the subject at the EU-Russia summit on Thursday and Friday.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Chizhov (r) and Lavrov - the summit statement may be at 'EU-Russia' or 'Ashton-Lavrov' level (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

The details of the text are being kept under wraps. But Chizhov said: "The Russian position is closer to the EU position than the US position ... We've expressed the need to foster Palestinian unity, because without that no progress whatsoever is possible."

He indicated that the EU's position is unpopular in Washington: "I don't think there is an immediate danger of the collapse of the Quartet. There is a divergence of views."

Hamas in May agreed to accept an Israeli state based on 1967 borders, to call a truce with Israel and to abide by former international pacts as part of a new government with rival Palestinian faction Fatah.

Ashton, speaking for the EU, has signalled she is willing to work with Hamas if it abides by the new terms. But Israel and the US have urged Fatah to walk away from the deal, with Israeli diplomats in Brussels pointing out that Hamas' 1988 charter still calls for the "obliteration" of Israel.

Russia's Chizhov noted that Quartet members - the EU, Russia, the UN and the US - have reacted differently to the Arab Spring.

He said Brussels and Moscow wanted the Quartet to play a bigger role and to put the Arab-Israeli conflict center stage in terms of international diplomacy in the region. But the US disagreed.

"We feel the developments in the wider north Africa and Middle East region have actually increased the need for the involvement of the Quartet. Some say the opposite: 'Now it's all about Libya, Egypt, Tunisia. It's not the moment for settling old scores between Israel and Palestine'," he explained.

Pointing to the recent protests by Palestinian refugees on the Israel-Lebanon and the Israel-Syria borders, he said events in the region are "all interconnected."

Chizhov noted that Russia does not agree with EU countries' military action in Libya and EU sanctions on Syria. But he said French President Nicolas Sarkozy has invited Russian diplomats to talk to Gaddafi, with Russia's envoy to Africa, Mikhail Margelo, currently in Tripoli.

On Syria, he added: "The prospect of a UN Security Council resolution along the same lines as 1973 on Libya [authorising military action] will not be supported by my country. We are in direct contact with Syrian authorities providing advice on how best to handle the situation."

The EU-Russia summit is designed to create a feel-good factor despite serious differences on human rights and trade, with a boat trip planned for top EU and Russian officials along the Volga river on Thursday evening.

The meeting will see the signature of two low-key agreements - on migration and on plans to modernise Russian businesses. But coverage of the summit in Russian media has been hijacked by Russia's decision to ban imports of all EU vegetables due to the deadly E. coli outbreak.

'EU Coli'

Chizhov indicated there is little prospect of Russia lifting the ban before Thursday.

But he said it might in future move to bans of vegetables from selected EU regions only on condition the Union provides "guarantees" the given produce is safe. The ambassador risked a joke at the EU's expense, adding: "The problem is not with the Russian ban, it's with, well I wouldn't say 'EU Coli,' but ..."

He rejected an earlier report by this website saying the EU and Russia would like to clip one of their twice-yearly summits due to lack of content.

Chizhov said the move is legally impossible until the two replace a 1994 bilateral treaty which created the set-up. "I have never heard from any of the participants at the summit that they didn't feel the need to come," he added.

EU seeks to extend Morocco fish deal, despite legal opinion

An EU court advisor says an EU fish deal with Rabat should be scrapped due to the Morocco-annexed territory of the Western Sahara. The fisheries agreement is set to expire in July but the European Commission want to renew it.

US warns on flare-up in Ukraine 'crisis'

Fighting in Ukraine escalated to "hellish" levels not seen since February amid warnings of a humanitarian catastrophe in the run-up to Christmas.

News in Brief

  1. Germany confirms attendance at air quality summit
  2. Nearly half of 'fixed' Dieselgate cars show problems
  3. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook up hate speech deletion
  4. UK mulls bridge to France
  5. German far-right float anti-asylum bill
  6. EU Parliament to investigate glyphosate-decision process
  7. 'Mutagenesis' falls outside EU's GMO rules, says EU top lawyer
  8. Decision on Polish MEP's Nazi-era slur postponed

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on the agenda This WEEK
  2. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  3. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems
  4. UK loses EU satellite centre to Spain
  5. Pay into EU budget for market access, Macron tells May
  6. Ethiopian regime to get EU migrants' names
  7. EU to lend Greece up to €7bn more next week
  8. Nato prepares to take in Macedonia

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  2. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  3. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  4. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  5. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  6. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  7. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  8. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  10. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  12. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap