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EU Presses Russia To Accept New Rules In Energy Sector

EU wants Russia to open up its domestic energy market.

The European Union aims to press Russia to implement a number of changes to its energy policy, including opening up its domestic market and applying more transparent rules for companies, the EU presidency said on Oct. 20.

"We aim to build a close and legally binding partnership (with Russia) based on mutually balanced long-term benefits," said Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency. Member states have agreed that the partnership should be based on principles set out in the EU Energy Charter, Vanhanen said referring to a treaty proposal that Russia has declined to ratify.

"They should cover especially private market-based rules, market opening, non-discriminatory access to the transit network and for mutuality in two-way investments," he added.

Many of these conditions have been rejected by Russia because the Kremlin wants to protect the gas monopoly of Russian giant Gazprom and has sought recently to exclude foreign investors from its strategic energy sector.

Last week, a Russian envoy to the EU said that Russia could not ratify the EU Energy Charter in its current form. "If Russia is not ready to ratify the charter in its current form, the phrasing that does not suit us has to be changed," envoy Sergei Yastrzhembsky said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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