|"...there is no solution to most of today's problems without it [Russia], let alone against it."|
French Foreign Minister
Suddenly the barriers that had been piling up in recent months between the East and West seemed to be a lot lower. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, and his colleague from Moscow, Dmitry Medvedev, cleared the political hurdles at the EU-Russia summit in Nice on Friday with surprising ease -- setting a new tone in difficult relations between unequal neighbors.
Russia has become the European Union's third-largest trading partner, with a growth rate of 20 percent. The Russians supply energy -- one quarter of all natural gas and oil consumed in the EU -- and with the money they earn from that, they purchase countless products from European markets, from cars to heavy machinery to fashion and services, you name it.
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Moscow also loves the euro. Billions of them are sitting in the safes of Russia's state bank as currency reserves. Economically, the giant in the east is deeply connected to the 27-member EU. And that creates obligations -- for both sides.
Without a reasonable relationship with major geopolitical power Russia, true European security is also almost unthinkable in the long term.
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