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Russia Not to Ratify European Energy Charter
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Russia will not ratify a European Energy Charter or its transit protocol in its current form to pave the way for new partnership agreement with the EU, a Kremlin aide said on Wednesday.

"There are other options. The European Union has proposed that the principles of cooperation in the energy sector be included in the future basic agreement between Russia and the EU. We are not against this," Kremlin aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency as saying.

"We shall be prolonging the existing agreement, which expires in 2007, until a new one,  that satisfies both sides has been formulated," he said.

However, Poland vetoed last week an EU plan to launch negotiations on a new EU-Russia agreement on partnership and cooperation, citing a Russian ban on meat imports from Poland as against its interests.

Yastrzhembsky believes that the European Commission's lack of a mandate for talks with Russia on a new partnership agreement is a purely internal affair of the EU.

"The ball is in the EU court. That's the EU's own problem," he told the media.

"As far as Russia's suspended import of Polish meat is concerned, it is a purely technical problem, and it has no bearing whatsoever on the agreement between Russia and the EU on partnership. The Polish side knows pretty well what is to be done to change the situation," he said.

Russia banned the imports last year after finding that some veterinary certificates had been forged. Poland and the EU said the move was unjustified, as Polish products are accepted across the continent.

Warsaw has also demanded that Russia ratify the Energy Charter Treaty that would force it to liberalize its oil and gas sector. Moscow has refused to implement the document and is seeking changes.

Talks on a new pact, which will focus on areas such as energy, trade, investment and human rights, had been expected to start at an EU-Russia summit in Helsinki on Friday.

(Xinhua News Agency November 23, 2006)

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