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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EU, Russia Fail to Break Meat Impasse

VedomostiAlexei Gordeyev
LIMASSOL, Cyprus -- The European Union and Russia failed in weekend talks to break an impasse over Moscow's ban on Polish meat, an issue that has blocked negotiations on an important EU partnership accord with Russia.

Russia has barred meat imports from Poland since late 2005, citing health concerns.

Warsaw responded by vetoing the start of talks on the partnership accord, which aims to forge closer energy ties.

EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said Sunday that in two days of talks the two sides were unable to move beyond simply identifying the points of disagreement and committing to continuing discussions.

"Our experts will continue working on these issues ... and if there is a need, we will meet at our level again," Kyprianou told reporters after a second round of talks with Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev on Sunday morning.

Gordeyev said more steps needed to be made. He said Russia had put forward its draft of a joint plan of action for resolving outstanding issues.

"We are aware of the fact that our European counterparts expected more from these negotiations, but our prime interest is in restoring order in the meat markets, in particular with respect to Polish products," Gordeyev said through a translator.

"Our first task, the way we see it, is to make sure that the meat market is free of fraud," Gordeyev said.

Kyprianou said the Russian side was responsible for the failure to reach an agreement at this stage.

"The position of the European Union is that based on the progress done, we could have had some immediate results today," the EU commissioner said.

Peter Mandelson
On Friday, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said relations between the EU and Russia "contain a level of misunderstanding or even mistrust we have not seen since the end of the Cold War."

"Each suspects the other of double standards. Both believe the other is using the energy weapon as an instrument of politics. Neither thinks they enjoy the respect and goodwill from the other they are entitled to expect," he told a conference in Bologna, Italy.

Mandelson said the only long-term solution for Russia was to push ahead with reforms to implement the rule of law in a transparent, impartial manner, repeating the EU's call for Russia to open up its markets.

He called again for rules to govern global energy trading, saying Europe and Russia would both benefit from removing the political dimension. That would help calm Europe's worries over the security of its supplies and spur investors to put much-needed money into Russian infrastructure.

EU foreign ministers on Monday are due to meet with their Russian counterpart to review bilateral relations.