Medvedev promises closer energy ties with Germany

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev promised closer energy cooperation with Germany at the start of his first official trip to western Europe on Thursday.

Medvedev promises closer energy ties with Germany
Medvedev, who was sworn in last month, said he hoped Russia's relations with its leading trading partner would deepen further under his leadership.

"We had open and honest discussions, typical in our relations, which can become a model for Russian-EU relations," Medvedev said after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Both Merkel and Medvedev defended plans to build a Baltic Sea pipeline to deliver Siberian gas to Europe, a project which has sparked concerns about environmental issues and energy security in some east European and Scandinavian countries.

Warsaw fears the Nord Stream, which bypasses its territory, would enable Russia to cut off gas supplies to Poland while continuing to deliver to western Europe.

Merkel said she hoped other countries' concerns could be eased. "Hopefully, the project will be implemented within the deadlines we talked about," Medvedev said.

Security of energy supply is a major issue for Europe, which gets 25 percent of its energy from Russia, while Moscow has argued with transit states such as Ukraine and Belarus.

Merkel said the issue of energy security would feature high in talks between the EU and Russia on a new partnership deal, due to be launched at a summit this month.

Asked about possible investments by Russian firms in Germany's national energy network, she said Berlin would not hinder them because they were business decisions.

Democracy

Merkel said they had also discussed international issues and human rights questions. Medvedev's predecessor Vladimir Putin opposed the West on Kosovo's independence and U.S. plans to deploy elements of a missile defence system in Europe.

A pastor's daughter from communist East Germany, the conservative Merkel has been outspoken about Russia's democratic record and openly scolded Putin at a summit last year for stopping opposition figures taking part in a rally.

Merkel said the two leaders had talked about the fate of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who is serving an eight-year term for fraud in a Siberian jail. The West believe he was punished by the Kremlin for his political ambitions.

Medvedev referred to Russia's judicial system and said criminal procedures should not be decided in talks between states or in political negotiations.

A German diplomatic source has said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met Khodorkovsky's lawyer in Russia last month, and weekly Der Spiegel said the two discussed the possibility of getting Khodorkovsky transferred to Moscow on humanitarian grounds.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Haziran 2008, 08:52
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