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Reinfeldt Attends EU Summit in Finland

Published fredag 20 oktober 2006 kl 12.13
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt arrives in Finland

European Union leaders arrived in Finland on Friday for sensitive talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, torn between pleading for closer energy ties and raising concerns about democracy and Georgia.

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt (attending his first EU summit) says it is important, especially for the Baltic nations, that the EU delivers a common message to the Russian president.

EU president Finland invited Putin for dinner with the 25 EU leaders hoping to win backing for a tie-up offering Russia open access to the European market in return for better opportunities for European firms to exploit Russia’s oil and gas resources.

But the assassination of an investigative journalist and the Kremlin’s heavy-handed treatment of former Soviet Georgia and Georgians living in Russia have heightened European concerns about whether Putin shares their values and soured the mood.

Before the encounter in the southern Finnish town of Lahti, the Europeans tried to mute their own differences on whether to treat Moscow more as a strategic partner and supplier of a quarter of its gas or as a bully in its ex-Soviet backyard.

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