Moscow warns against more sanctions on Iran
Speaking to journalists in Portugal's capital, Lisbon, ahead of a Russia-EU summit, Vladimir Putin said it was not up to the outside world to decide Kosovo's final status.
“Why rock the boat in the Balkans? We should have patience and find a way out using existing regulations. And the solution should be acceptable for both sides,” Mr Putin said.
The Russian leader went on to say that Moscow was safeguarding Europe's interests by urging caution.
“Sometimes it seems to me that when we discuss issues with our colleagues, with our counterparts from the European Commission, we defend European interests to a greater degree then our counterparts,” the Russian President said.
RT’s political commentator Peter Lavelle says although there is a mood of compromise in the air between Russia and the EU, the Portuguese summit is unlikely to see progress on the Balkans.
“A breakthrough on Kosovo – I don’t see it on the cards. The only breakthrough they can get is really disagreeing very strongly,” he said.
President Putin was received with full honours
At an evening dinner hosted by President Anibal Cavaco Silva, Mr Putin said Portugal and Russia had built a good relationship since signing a co-operation treaty in 1994.
Iran's atomic programme
As expected, Iran’s controversial nuclear programme was also raised.
Vladimir Putin said Russia remained opposed to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. He said the point was made clear at last week's Caspian summit in Tehran.
He also questioned the effectiveness of sanctions.
“So why threaten Iran with sanctions or military action? In North Korea we are close to finding a solution, and that was done through dialogue,” Mr Putin said.
Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva said both Russia and the EU were key players in maintaining peace and stability in the world.
Mr Silva said his country would do all in its power to promote dialogue beteween Russia and the EU during Portugal's presidency of the EU.
“It's very important to create a climate of trust. We hope tomorrow's summit will help us achieve this goal,” he said.
To watch the media briefing, please follow thelink.
Among the issues that will top the agenda of the Russia-EU summit that kicks off on Friday is the status of the Serbian region of Kosovo.
According to Russian officials, Moscow could vote in favour of an independent Kosovo if Pristina and Belgrade reach agreement between themselves first.
“The Russian position will consist of three points. One of them is to achieve some kind of agreement with those in the EU who support the idea of postponing the independence of Kosovo. The second is to come to a sort of agreement with the Albanians – as you know, they visited the Kremlin and promised not to promulgate independence unilaterally. The third problem is how to co-operate with the Serbian side. The Serbs will not agree to the unilateral independence,” commented Artyom Ulunian from Moscow-based Institute of World History.
But time is running out, as Kosovans threaten to declare independence unilaterally if there is no compromise by December 10.
Russia-EU partnership agreement
The ultimate goal for the EU is to have a single voice when speaking to Russia. To date they've failed to do it. Some countries have found it easier to deal with Moscow directly, while others are busy settling old scores. Russian analysts point to the Baltic States and Poland in particular.
Poland blocked talks on the EU-Russian Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) following Russia's ban on meat imports from Poland.
Still, Sergey Yasterzhembsky, Presidential Special Envoy to EU, said that despite this, the EU-Russia partnership will still be valid next year: “It’s already clear that at the beginning of December both sides will declare the automatic prolongation of the current agreement for the next year”.
Meantime, Russia hopes the victory of the Civic Platform party over the Kaczynski brothers in the Polish parliamentary elections might improve relations between the countries.
The security of energy supplies is also among the top issues on the agenda. Europe, heavily dependent on energy imports from Russia, fears a repeat of the events of 2005 and 2006 when Russia's demand that its gas was bought at market prices was followed by energy disputes, first with Ukraine and then Belarus.
This time Russian officials are offering to introduce an early warning system that will alert Brussels in advance should such cases occur in future.
This seems to calm some of the Europeans who pledge their support to Russia:
“We cannot understand the history of Europe without Russia and we cannot conceive the future of Europe without Russia,” stated Portuguese Ambassador to Russia, Manuel Marco Kurtu.
With all the stumbling blocks in the relations between Russia and the EU, and even divisions within the union itself, finding a common approach might be hard but it is in the interests of both sides.
Russia-Portugal business talks
Meanwhile, a business roundtable, with a Russian delegation participating, will also take place in Lisbon.
It's expected that several commercial agreements between Russia and Portugal will be signed during the talks.
Also on the agenda are a number of joint-projects, including deliveries of Russian planes and helicopters to Portugal and the the construction of a ‘Portuguese village' in Sochi – a Russian resort on the Black Sea and host of the 2014 Winter Olympics.