Shuvalov Tells EU Not to Fear Russia

APShuvalov speaking with Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas, right, at the Baltic Sea States' summit Tuesday.
RIGA, Latvia -- First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov on Wednesday called for European countries to get over their mistrust of investments from Russia and pledged to be more open.

"Don't fear Russia. Help Russians to invest in European projects," Shuvalov leaders and top officials attending the Council of the Baltic Sea States' summit to map out regional cooperation.

Russia's relations with the European Union have been marked by areas of tension, particularly over concerns that energy supplies are being used for political ends.

One issue of concern for some in the region is Nord Stream, a 7.4 billion euro ($11.54 billion) project for a pipeline under the Baltic Sea, direct from Russia to Germany.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, whose nation is a transit state for Russian gas, said a new overland pipeline remained the best option from an economic point of view but that it was up to the builders of the pipeline to choose their own route.

Shuvalov, who was making one of his first major public appearances since his appointment to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's Cabinet on May 12, sought to reassure regional leaders that Russia was a reliable partner.

"This is the main principle of our policy: Russia is, will be and was the most reliable supplier of energy resources. ... When we hear that Russia uses energy as a political tool to reach its political aims we do not agree with it," he said.

"We will try to create preconditions [to] become trustworthy and reliable so that Russian investments in the territory of the EU would become good, because today we see a little bit of mistrust in some places," Shuvalov said.

"We should create the conditions that the degree of trust in Russian politics, in Russian government, in Russian investments is very positive," he said in the Latvian capital, Riga.

"Russia can offer a new quality of values. ... We will do everything so that Russian companies will become more open and transparent. We understand that this is not a problem to solve within one day, but we will work toward this direction."

European countries have been angered by Russian energy firms wanting to enter their markets, while feeling their companies are less welcome in Russia.

Shuvalov also said the country expected progress over the next couple of months in talks to enter the World Trade Organization, even though Georgia has blocked its accession bid.