"Hard EU-Russia talks ahead"

The European Union has spent 18 months to agree with itself about a mandate for new talks on a renewed partnership agreement with Russia. Head of EU’s delegation to Russia says the negotiations with the Russians will be no easier. He indicates that they might last for more than a year.


-The talks might be more difficult than it was defining the mandate, Marc Franco, the head of the EU delegation to Russia, said in an interview Friday. Given the complexity of the issues, he would be not surprised if talks were to be drawn out for more than a year, Franco said by telephone from Florence, Italy, where he was attending a conference of the European University Institute, the Moscow Times reports. At a meeting in Brussels on Monday, the foreign ministers of the EU’s 27 member states are expected to approve a deal reached last week to begin talks with Russia, a decision blocked for 18 months by disputes over how to deal with Moscow’s more assertive foreign policy.