EU leaders meet Putin.The European Union's policy with regard to Russia can be divided into four planks, namely strengthening democracy, the rule of law and the authority of the Russian Government and state institutions; integrating the country into the European Union's sphere of influence; co-operation with a view to reinforcing stability and security in Europe and throughout the world; and meeting the challenges facing the entire continent. Against this broad backdrop, the President of the European Council, Goran Persson, wants attention to be focused on stepping up the economic and political dialogue. Vladimir Putin stressed that in the post-Cold War world, there was no longer an Iron Curtain between the Russian Federation and the rest of Europe and that it was important to make the most of the new opportunities available. The two sides raised the question of Kaliningrad, which will become a Russian enclave in the enlarged European Union. President Putin expressed his desire to see transit problems sorted out before enlargement. The question of the Chechen Republic was also raised. Mr Putin made a parallel with the situation in Macedonia, likening the Albanian Muslims to terrorists and asking rhetorically whether the EU thought that Russia had been wrong to intervene against Chechen terrorists. He was at pains to stress that he shared the EU's political and humanitarian concerns in this connection. The EU agreed with the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker that it should co-finance the 300-year celebrations of St Petersburg. This delighted Mr Putin, who highlighted that the city was a treasure house of classical architecture and would be a showcase both for Russia itself and co-operation with the European Union. In terms of Russia joining the WTO, Mr Putin said that the EU's demands were well justified and he pledged to attempt to met them. Mr Persson added that he thought that the most important structural reform to be carried out by Russia was to prepare the Russian economy for joining the WTO. The EU approved a oneoff loan for Russia (from the EIB) of Euro 100 million for environmental protection.Energy negotiations.The next EU/Russia Co-operation Council will take place on 10 April, followed by a bilateral summit on 17 May. With this and the importance of energy supply in mind, the EU Heads of State and Government want energy to be included in the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement (PCA) and this is why the EU is putting pressure on Vladimir...

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