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24 November, 2006 - Published 14:47 GMT
EU Russia summit
Top officials from the EU are meeting the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, for a summit in Helsinki. Both sides had hoped to formally open negotiations on a new Stability and Cooperation Pact but Poland has refused to allow the negotiations to open. This report from Jonny Dymond:
Rarely is summit doomed to failure before it begins but that looks very much like what's going to happen to this one. For almost two weeks now nearly every member of the EU has been trying to get Poland to budge. But to no avail. The Polish government decided that unless something was done about Russia's refusal to accept its exports of meat and vegetables, then there would be no start made to replacing the stability and cooperation pact that's now up for renewal.
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, said that both sides would have to sit down and find acceptable solutions. His aides stressed that this is something for EU member states to sort out amongst themselves. And Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, was keen to play down the difficulties:
JAVIER SOLANA: This is a question that will be resolved. There's no question about that, it's not a big thing. It's a question of import of meat that without any doubt will be resolved. It's not a question of principles, it's not a question of a dramatic situation.
But this is embarrassing for the EU. Normally member states can be brought round with either threats or promises. But Poland wouldn't budge this time and Europe has come to the summit looking a little empty handed. Negotiations on a new pact can of course start later but this is a reminder of how swift Europe is to divide over what its relationship with Russia should be.
Jonny Dymond, BBC News, Helsinki
doomed to failure
to no avail
to sort out
was keen to play down the difficulties
looking a little empty handed