Benelux and Baltic states hold informal talks on Russian relations

‘Europe has shown that it is possible to rise above the legacy of the past and live together as good neighbours, even with a tough partner like Russia.’ These were foreign minister Maxime Verhagen's comments today following informal talks between the foreign ministers of the Benelux and Baltic states in Estonia.

The Baltic states consider the Benelux a good example of a well-organised group of small countries within the European Union. Since 2006 the counties have regularly exchanged views on the possibilities offered by cooperation and partnership, and on the most significant issues facing the EU.

The Netherlands supports taking a balanced, unequivocal approach to Russia. Although the EU countries and Russia have numerous shared interests, Russia must be held accountable to the norms and values to which it has subscribed. ‘Regardless of past differences, it is essential that we speak to Russia with one European voice,’ Mr Verhagen stressed.

Besides EU-Russian relations, the six ministers also discussed the crisis in Georgia, the European Neighbourhood Policy with respect to Belarus, Ukraine and other countries in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, and European energy politics.