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Russia Should Be in EU, Italian Premier Says

Diplomacy: At summit, Berlusconi says continent should heal wounds of communism.

November 24, 2001|From Associated Press

TRIESTE, Italy — Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Friday that the European Union should stretch its borders to include Russia.

Berlusconi's remarks came as he and 16 other leaders of Central European nations wrapped up talks in Trieste that were part of periodic consultations within the so-called Central European Initiative.

"Europe should not [only] be enlarged but reconstituted and heal the wound of communism, which for a half-century kept many countries behind the Iron Curtain," Berlusconi, the summit host, said at a news conference in this northeastern Italian port city. "I believe in some years we'll have a Europe . . . that includes the Russian Federation."

In their final document, the leaders said EU enlargement is a "fundamental contribution to the stability, democracy and economic development" in Europe.

The initiative has two EU members, Italy and Austria, plus Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Croatia, Yugoslavia, Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Moldova, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine and Hungary. Many of the nations are seeking EU membership.

The leaders promised to increase regional cooperation against terrorism and organized crime.

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