EU slams Russia over Baltic relations

  • 2007-06-20
  • From wire reports

CRUDE POLITICS: The European union's report on Russia criticizes, among other things, the refusal of Russia to provide more information about the cessation of oil transit through the Gruzhba oil pipeline.

The European Parliament and the European Commission have both recently slammed Russia over different aspects of their relations with the Baltic states. The European Parliament pressed Russia on, among other things, its rail tariffs, while the Commission demanded progress toward a resolution of the Druzhba pipeline situation in Lithuania. 

The European Parliament's press service said the members of parliament have demanded in a recent report that Russia scrap the discriminatory rail tariff policy on imports and exports with the Baltic states.  

The report also urged Russia to support the financing of two current border checkpoints and one new one. The report also expressed concern over nationalistic and monopolistic development trends in the management of Russia's energy resources, and appeals to Russia to adopt a more liberal approach.

The announcement came at a critical time for EU-Russian relations, and the Parliamentary report urged for a more constructive relationship with Russia. It pointed out the importance of the EU's relationship with Russia and the more than 166 billion euro trade relationship between the two blocs. The size of that trade relationship makes Russia the third most important trading partner for the EU, comprising 7.3 percent of the bloc's total trade and 52.9 percent of Russia's.  

Opposition leader Gary Kasparov spoke at the Parliament meeting, saying that the Kremlin has "weakened Russian democratic institutions." The European Commission, meanwhile, has demanded that Russian authorities present Lithuania with all information pertaining to the Druzhba pipeline, something that Russia has to date been reluctant to do.  

European Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes said at a European Parliament discussion on the topic that the European Commission is constantly keeping connection with Russia's energy minister and demanding that Russia seeks a solution acceptable for all parties.

The Druzhba pipeline stopped the oil supply to Lithuania and Latvia last July. There has been no official information, however, about the reasons for the cessation and prospects of renewing the supply for almost a year.

According to the report, in the opinion of analysts, the Russian government has already made a politically based decision to refuse oil to the Druzhba pipeline because a new pipeline would give Russia the opportunity not to transport oil over through the territories of Belarus and Poland and would allow oil to be transported to the European Union by sea over the Primorsk port at the Baltic seaside.