Monday, July 15

Comment by the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, M.V.Zakharova, in connection with the suspension by the European Commission of Russian participation in cross-border and cross-border cooperation programs between Russia and EU member states

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On March 4, the European Commission learned from a press release about the decision to suspend cooperation with Russia within the framework of seven cross-border cooperation programs “Russia – Poland”, “Russia- Lithuania”, “Russia- Latvia”, “Russia- Estonia”, “Russia – Southeastern Finland”, “Karelia” and “Kolarctic”, as well as the multilateral cooperation program “Interreg. The Baltic Sea region”. At the same time, cooperation with our country in the preparation of programs for the new period until 2027 has been suspended. The Russian side has not received an official notification of this to date.

We note that regional cooperation has traditionally been viewed by both Russia and the EU member States as a depoliticized and mutually beneficial instrument of interaction that promotes confidence-building and the development of contacts between people. It could remain that way in the future. The refusal of our neighbors from cross-border cooperation is capable of breaking thousands of threads of contacts at the regional and local levels, which have been developed for many years and are the living tissue of our relations.

We would like to note that these programs are not the “property” of the European Union. They are implemented on the principles of equality and joint financing with Russia. The contribution of our country to the current programs is more than 90 million euros, it is fully transferred to the program budgets.

Taking into account the wording of the said decision of the European Commission, we have to remind you that the basis for the implementation of programs with the participation of Russia is not the EU’s own acts, but the relevant financing and implementation agreements concluded between Russia, the European Commission and the EU member states. The documents provide for the possibility of suspending their validity, and an appropriate procedure has been established. The next steps are either the resumption or, after 180 days, the termination of the agreements. However, the agreements provide for the suspension of the programs themselves, and not the participation of one of the parties in them.

In this regard, the decision of the European Commission to terminate payments to Russian project participants (there are about 500 of them) hardly corresponds to the provisions of these agreements and contractual obligations under the programs. We proceed from the fact that the European Commission has in mind only its own contribution to the budgets of the programs, and the transfer of their Russian part to Russian participants should be continued.

We will carefully analyze the consequences of such a decision by the European Commission and take the necessary steps to protect the interests of Russian participants. At the same time, we call on the EU side and the interested EU member States to remain in the implementation of any of their actions within the framework of the above-mentioned agreements.

We also expect that in the conditions of the information war unleashed by the West against Russia, the materials on the joint information resources of the programs will remain depoliticized.

It cannot but cause regret that this sphere of cooperation, previously not subject to the geopolitical conjuncture, is capable of becoming another victim of the destructive sanctions policy of the European Union.



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