Eu-Russia Summit : Putin Proposes Creation of Joint Human Rights Institute in Europe
Courtesy towards outgoing Russian President Vladimir Putin was the order of the day at the 20th EU-Russia Summit on 26 October in Mafra. Instead of speaking about the concrete results of the meeting, the leaders focused on sending congratulations to Putin for his "fruitful" engagement in developing EU-Russia relations for the last ten years. On his departure from his post as president, Putin proposed to the EU to create a joint institute in Brussels or "any other EU capital" to promote human rights in Europe. The proposal was welcomed by the EU as a better than nothing first step towards jointly improving the human rights situation in Europe.
Portugal's Prime Minister Jose Socrates rejected suggestions that the Portuguese EU Presidency has deliberately made little of human rights violations in Russia to improve the atmosphere of EU-Russia relations. "We have raised the human rights issue at the summit," said Socrates, adding that significant results were achieved in this matter.
The EU also welcomed Putin's declaration that Russia "is going to invite the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to monitor the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections" set for December and March respectively. EU officials had requested that Russian authorities invite the OSCE mission on several occasions. To date, however, the OSCE has not received any invitation. The spokesperson for the organisation said that the formal "date has already passed" for receiving an invitation in time to set up an effective observation mission. …