“We see ourselves as a responsible partner for the European Union,” Sergei Prikhodko, Medvedev’s chief foreign policy aide, told reporters in Moscow. “We are ready to study most attentively what they are doing and hear if they have any proposals for the Russian side.”
Medvedev is set to hold an informal dinner tonight with European Commission President Jose Barroso and EU President Herman Van Rompuy in Brussels, followed tomorrow by this year’s second Russia-EU summit. The meetings will address issues ranging from Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization to unrest in the Middle East, Prikhodko said.
Russia is closely watching efforts by European governments to contain the debt turmoil that started in Greece more than two years ago. The world’s biggest energy exporter is prepared to help Europe, which accounts for half its foreign trade, by making as much as $10 billion available through the International Monetary Fund and hasn’t ruled out offering bilateral help to EU nations, Medvedev’s economy aide, Arkady Dvorkovich, has said.
“We are extremely interested in seeing the joint efforts undertaken by EU countries succeed in overcoming those difficult processes that threaten stability of the euro zone, potentially affecting the scale and character of cooperation with Russia,” Prikhodko said.
Russia’s trade with the EU reached $286.4 billion in the first nine months, an increase of 31.4 percent from a year earlier, Prikhodko said. Russia, the EU’s third largest trade partner after the U.S. and China, has invested about 41 percent of its international reserves in the euro.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said both sides will discuss expanding energy cooperation tomorrow, according to comments broadcast on state television today. Medvedev joined EU leaders last month to oversee the opening of Nord Stream AG, the first direct gas pipeline connecting Russia and western Europe, and offered to boost energy ties with the region.
Iran, Libya, Syria, Egypt
Medvedev, accompanied by Lavrov and Economy Minister Elvira Nabiullina, will also discuss Iran’s nuclear program and the situation in Libya, Egypt and Syria, Prikhodko said.
The president’s visit to Brussels will be concluded by a roundtable attended by Russian and European entrepreneurs discussing problems that European companies face in doing business in Russia, Prikhodko said.
Medvedev’s delegation will include OAO Rusnano Corp. Chief Executive Officer Anatoly Chubais, the oil and metals tycoon Viktor Vekselberg, OAO Eurochem Chairman Andrey Melnichenko and OAO TMK billionaire owner Dmitry Pumpyansky.
Prikhodko declined to comment on how the talks may be affected by complaints of violations and ballot-stuffing during the Dec. 4 Russian parliamentary elections. Medvedev has ordered an investigation of alleged vote fraud after protesters held the country’s biggest rallies in more than a decade last weekend.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the continent’s democracy watchdog, the U.S., Germany and the European Union criticized what they termed as violations during the vote.
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