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Archive for Saturday, May 22, 2004

EU backs Russia’s WTO bid

Putin promises action on global warming treaty

May 22, 2004

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— Ending months of uncertainty, Russia agreed Friday to speed its ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on combating global warming after the European Union offered to support its longtime bid to join the World Trade Organization.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the two issues were not linked, but he added that a compromise after years of tense talks helped assuage some of Russia's economic concerns, clearing the path for faster movement on Kyoto.

"The EU has met us halfway in talks over the WTO and that cannot but affect positively our position on the Kyoto Protocol," Putin said after the one-day Russia-EU summit. "We will speed up Russia's movement toward the Kyoto Protocol's ratification."

No timetable was given.

The EU has long urged Russia to ratify the 1997 protocol aimed at reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which are widely seen as a key contributor to global warming.

But Kyoto foes in Russia argue the pact will stifle the nation's economic growth, derailing Putin's plan of doubling Russia's gross domestic product in 10 years.

In order to take effect, the Kyoto Protocol must be ratified by at least 55 countries accounting for at least 55 percent of global emissions in 1990. That minimum can only be reached with Russia's ratification because the United States and several other key countries have rejected the treaty.

Russia's emissions already are below the protocol's limits.

"We support the Kyoto process," Putin said. "We have some concerns connected to the obligations we have to take."

He did not elaborate.

Moscow has been trying for years to join the WTO, the 147-nation body that sets international trade rules. Russia, the biggest economy outside the organization, must conclude agreements with any WTO members that demand it as a condition for joining.

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