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EU Fears Russia Could Ban EU Meat Imports

(ITAR-TASS) BRUSSELS, December 1, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The European Commission today said it fears Russia is on course to ban some or all EU meat imports after Bulgaria and Romania join the bloc on January 1, 2007.

Commission spokesman Philip Tod said the EU thinks such a ban would be unjustified.

"Clearly, the commission takes the view that such a ban would be unjustified," he said. "We believe that we have taken all the necessary measures to offer all the guarantees necessary to third countries to accompany the enlargement of the EU, and therefore we would not regard such a ban as justified."

Tod said EU experts were in Moscow last week to explain the measures the EU has already put in place to protect itself and other importers of its produce from animal diseases such as swine fever.

He said any Russian ban would also violate an agreement the two sides reached in 2004 after the EU’'s last enlargement.

Privately, EU officials say they fear a Russian ban on "some or all" EU meat imports appears inevitable.

The move follows closely the collapse of new EU-Russia EU partnership talks after a Polish veto in retaliation of a Russian ban on its agricultural exports.

As of last week, Russia is also blocking Estonian fish imports.

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