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Europe

Fresh Bid to Secure Russian Signature to Kyoto

The European Union has hinted that it may be ready to relax some of its demands on Russian entry to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in return for Moscow’s ratification of the Kyoto protocol.

Speaking in Berlin at a German parliamentary hearing the Enlargement Commissioner, Günter Verheugen, said that a political link was being made between the two seemingly unrelated issues. "There are signs of a political link between finalising the WTO negotiations and Russia's ratification of the Kyoto protocol," he said. "In political contacts it has been noted that one could see it as a political package and I'm quite confident that on both issues we will see movement" in the first half of 2004, said Verheugen, hinting that a trade-off could be in the pipeline. "I understand it as an attempt to get us to relax some of our demands for Russian WTO entry and then to compensate for that by signing the Kyoto protocol". Russia caused consternation in the EU last summer by stalling its decision on whether to sign the international treaty on climate change. The EU has been a keen supporter of the protocol which is being held up by the refusal of the US and Russia to ratify it. To enter into force, the 1997 deal needs countries responsible for at least 55 percent of greenhouse gas emissions to sign up. As Washington has said it will not ratify the deal, Russia holds the key to its success, or failure. (EUobserver.com)

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