The Polish government has no strategy on how to break the deadlock over its veto on the starting of negotiations on a new EU-Russia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, says Pawel Swieboda, the Director of demosEuropa - Polish Centre for European Strategy. The "Polish government's only tactic is to wait for Moscow to give up and lift the embargo", but "in current circumstances, when the issue is so highly politicised, Russia is not going to give ground and go for compromise".

In his recently published commentary on "how to constructively solve the issue of the Polish veto on the EU-Russia talks", Swieboda openly criticises the Polish government for unrealistic demands. "The postulates of the Polish government vis-a-vis partners in the EU cannot be satisfied without undermining the efficiency and the cohesion of the Union", he argues.

Despite intensive negotiations between Polish President Lech Kaczynski and the Finnish Presidency held in the margins of the European Council in December, agreement on how to deal with the Russian ban on the export of Polish meat has not been reached. In Brussels, Kaczynski firmly defended the Polish demand to obtain clear assurances from the EU that it will suspend negotiations on the new agreement with Russia if Moscow does not waive the embargo on Polish meat within fifty days.

"Partners in the EU cannot accept that postulate because it creates a risky precedent enabling each Member State to interrupt any negotiations at any given moment," argues Swieboda. "Therefore the Finnish Presidency was right to propose a provision which spoke about the possibility of suspending negotiations on the basis of a decision of the Council upon a motion of Poland. Nothing else is possible in this situation."

He does not expect any fast lifting of the Russian embargo, remarking that "it is not very likely for Russia to give ground as a result of political pressure without a face-saving gesture".

Despite calls for the ban to be lifted by Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso at November's EU-Russia summit in Helsinki, followed by similar appeals from EU officials and member state leaders, Moscow is still holding out. This is despite assurances from the EU that...

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