Russia Concerned at EU Overtures to Former Soviet States

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LUXENBOURG (Combined Sources)–After meeting with his EU counterparts in Luxembourg, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Kremlin wasn’t exactly thrilled at the bloc’s Eastern European policies.

Lavrov was visiting Luxembourg for a meeting of the Russia-EU “permanent partnership council.”

In particular, Russia isn’t happy with the EU’s Eastern Partnership scheme, which seeks to tighten the bloc’s connections with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova.

The EU says the initiative is aimed at stabilizing and modernizing those six countries by encouraging free-market and pro-democracy reforms in return for EU aid. But Moscow is viewing the partnership with a wary eye.

“I have to say that some of the comments we have heard about this initiative from the European Union do worry us,” Lavrov told reporters in a press conference.

Still Lavrov’s remarks fell far short of comments he made in March, in which he accused the EU of trying to build up a “sphere of influence” among former Soviet republics.

The EU is scheduled to hold the inaugural meeting of its Eastern Partnership scheme in Prague on May 7.

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