On Monday, a session of the Russia-European Union Parliamentary Cooperation commission has opened in Brussels. A delegation led by Vladimir Varnavski, deputy chairman of the Federation Council, or the upper chamber of Russian parliament, and two vice-speakers of the State Duma, the lower chamber, Vladimir Lukin and Irina Khakamada, arrived in the Belgian capital for the session. It is the fourth get-together at such a level, said Vasili Likhachev, Russia's permanent representative at the European Union. The session will last two days. The sides are expected to exchange opinions on the situation in the Russian Federation, its economic and political reforms. Reforms in the European Union will also be discussed, noted Likhachev. "Thorough attention will be given to such matters as a status for the Kaliningrad region ahead of the upcoming expansion of the European Union, formulation of the general external, security and defense policies of the European Union. The sides will analyse possible ways of strengthening Russian-European cooperation in this area", said Likhachev. According to the Russian permanent representative, "parliamentary diplomacy as an independent element of Russia's foreign policy line has a right to exist. At the same time, it is linked to activities carried out by the executive branches of power in our country". Likhachev noted that participants in the Brussels meeting know each other very well and, therefore, an "open and many-faceted conversation" will be held on foremost subjects of bilateral Russia-EU relations.
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