Washington D.C. – Congressman Eliot Engel, the Senior Democratic Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, received the following response from the State Department to his September 18th letter to Secretary Kerry on Russian pressure on several Eastern Partnership countries.
Dear Mr. Engel:
Thank you for your letter of September 18 regarding concerns about Russian pressure on several Eastern Partnership countries- Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Armenia. We support the sovereign right of these countries to make independent choices and would welcome their closer relationship with the European Union (EU). Any forms of pressure to prevent sovereign states from pursuing greater integration with the EU, or other organizations of their choosing, contravene Russia’s obligations under the Helsinki Principles of the Organization for Security and cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Charter of Paris, which commit participating states to respect each country’s “right freely to define and conduct as it wishes its relations with other States in accordance with international law.” Russia’s WTO agreements also commit it to a trading system “without discrimination.”
Consistent with these commitments, Russia must refrain from misusing energy pricing and creating artificial trade obstacles such as unjustified bans of imports or cumbersome customs procedures. Russia must not manipulate military cooperation and security guarantees or take advantage of protracted conflicts to pressure its neighbors. The United States is committed to the peaceful resolution of protracted conflicts and territorial disputes.
We have raised these points with Russian officials at high levels. We have made public statements in Washington and in the field with regard to this issue, and will continue to do so.
We hope this information is helpful to you. Please contact our office is we can be of further assistance on this or any other matter.
Acting Assistant Secretary