Medvedev in Poland for a fresh start: ambassador

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to Poland Monday will open a new chapter in bilateral ties and ink economic and legal deals, Russia's ambassador to Warsaw said Thursday.

"This visit will not only turn a new page, but open a new chapter in Polish-Russian relations," Alexander Alexeev told reporters.

Declarations of cooperation on modernisation in the economic sector and cutting edge science are to be inked as are agreements on maritime transport, combating pollution in the Baltic Sea, and in the legal arena, Alexeev said.

Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and prosecutor general Yuri Chaika as well as business leaders will be accompanying Medvedev, he added.

Medvedev and his Polish counterpart Bronislaw Komorowski are to focus talks on the investigation into the causes of the April 10 air disaster in Smolensk, western Russia, which claimed the lives of Poland's president Lech Kaczynski and 95 others, according to Alexeev.

Medvedev may also bring new documents on the massacre of 22,000 Polish officers ordered by Soviet leader Josef Stalin in 1940, including thousands in western Russia's Katyn forest.

The issue has clouded relations between the two neighbours since World War II as the Soviets long blamed Nazi Germany for the massacre. Russia's parliament declared Stalin responsible for ordering the killings only last Friday.

Alexeev said he was "convinced" that "the two presidents will make a decision how to make fitting tribute to the victims of this tragic event."

Poland and its Soviet-era master Russia have had uneasy relations since the demise of communism and the collapse of the Soviet Union 20 years ago, particularly over Poland's membership of the NATO Western defence alliance in 1999 and the European Union in 2004.

Relations have warmed since liberal Prime Minister Donald Tusk took office in Poland in the autumn of 2007.

"Poland is perceived in Russia as an influential member of NATO and the EU and we would very much like our Polish friends to use their potential to contribute to the rapprochement of Russia with these organizations," Alexeev said.

© 2010 AFP

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