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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » November 19, 2008
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Polish Yes to EU-Russia Talks
November 19, 2008   
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Poland has withdrawn its opposition to the European Union's plan to resume talks on a new partnership agreement with Russia, Poland's Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski said after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels Nov. 10. Later that same day Russia lifted its ban on Polish produce imports. After Poland's decision the only EU member that is still against resuming EU-Russia talks is Lithuania. The talks were suspended after the start of the Georgian-Russian conflict. Legally speaking, the negotiations with Russia were never broken off, EU officials say, so Lithuania's opposition cannot stop the European Commission from resuming the talks.

At their special summit Sept. 1 the EU leaders did not say officially that they would suspend the talks. They only declared that the next negotiating session with Russia would be held after Russia's armed forces withdraw to their positions from before the Georgian conflict. But that declaration was not followed by any legal move, and the next working meeting with Russia scheduled for mid-September was simply called off.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Poland's position on the Georgian conflict has not changed since then. He added that any future ratification of an agreement between the EU and Russia would require the consent of every member state. "We are convinced that we should all work toward a joint EU position that would lead to the withdrawal of Russian forces to their positions from before the conflict," Tusk said, adding that Poland withdrew its opposition to resuming EU-Russia talks because it wanted to contribute to normalizing relations between the two sides. "I will not allow a situation in which Poland would be standing in the way for no good reason, creating the impression that it is a country with an anti-Russian obsession," Tusk said.

Meanwhile, Piotr Kownacki, head of President Lech Kaczyński's Office, said the government's decision to consent to the resumption of negotiations with Russia had not been consulted with the president. The EU should demand that Russia fulfill all the provisions of a peace plan worked out after the Russian-Georgian conflict, Kownacki said.
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