MOSCOW – Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday said his government would not revoke a ban on European vegetable imports until Brussels met the Kremlin’s conditions, saying European Union exporters needed to stop thinking of the Russian market “as a personal fiefdom.”
“Western producers for many years have got used to thinking of the Russian market as a fiefdom where they can do anything they want. An example is what is happening with vegetables,” Putin said at a conference of Russian agricultural producers in the southern city of Rostov.
Russia on June 2 banned imports of EU vegetables because of a deadly E. coli outbreak in Germany.
Russia will admit European vegetables once approved laboratories – which have yet to be identified – start checking individual vegetable shipments and certify each one as E. coli free, Russian health officials said Wednesday.
Putin rejected EU complaints that the certification procedure was over-complicated and time-consuming, saying his top priority was protecting Russian consumers.
EU officials are in no position to point fingers at Russia for too much bureaucracy, Putin said, in comments reported by Interfax.
“In many countries, most of all in the EU states and in the U.S., there are administrative barriers to trade and such bureaucracy, the likes of which we (in Russia) have never dreamed of. In order to sell our goods there, our producers have to obtain a mass of approvals – it sometimes takes years,” Putin said.