2-Year Ban on Meat From Poland Ended

Russian and Polish authorities signed a memorandum Wednesday to end a two-year ban on exports of Polish meat to Russia, an Agriculture Ministry spokesman said, which could pave the way for closer ties between Moscow and the European Union.

The document was signed by Sergei Dankvert, head of the Federal Service for Veterinarian and Vegetation Sanitary Supervision, and his Polish counterpart, Ewa Lech, in the Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad, which borders Poland, a spokesman for the veterinary service said, Interfax reported.

The terms of the agreement were not immediately clear.

The watchdog has barred meat from Poland since late 2005, citing health concerns. The ban, which came amid increasingly strained relations between Poland and Russia, had prompted Poland to block the start of talks on a new partnership agreement between Moscow and Brussels.

After Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev said on Dec. 12 that the countries had resolved the dispute and that a formal agreement was likely, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Warsaw might soon lift its veto on the start of EU-Russia talks.

Relations between the two countries have been improving since Tusk defeated Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski in parliamentary elections in November.

The watchdog's spokesman, Alexei Alexeyenko, said he had not seen the document and did not know exactly when shipments of Polish meat to Russia would be allowed to resume.