Poland wants energy security included in EU-Russia talks before lifting veto

WARSAW (Thomson Financial) - Poland will drop its veto on the start of talks on a new EU-Russia agreement if the 27-member bloc agrees to include energy security on its agenda with Moscow, Poland's foreign minister said Tuesday.

'Poland motivated its veto with issues tied to energy security and here also from our side there has been progress,' Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski told reporters in Warsaw.

'We have given the Slovenian (EU) presidency a draft annex to the negotiation mandate (for the future EU-Russia agreement), which if it is accepted will allow us to return to talks about lifting the veto,' Sikorski said.

'So this is a conditional position. Now Poland will either be able, or will not be able, to remove the veto, depending on the position of the Slovenian presidency and the positions of the remaining (EU) members,' he said.

Talks on a new partnership and cooperation agreement to the European Union's ties with non-member Russia have been on ice for more than a year because of disputes between Moscow and Warsaw.

Under EU rules, member states are allowed to veto bloc-wide decisions, such as whether to launch talks with other countries.

Source: forbes.com

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Central European stocks close up; TVN leads Warsaw on upbeat results UPDATE

WARSAW (Thomson Financial) - Central European shares closed higher with Poland's only listed television broadcaster TVN leading the advance in Warsaw on the back of better fourth quarter results and upbeat 2008 guidance.

Warsaw's blue-chip WIG20 index rose 2.68 pct to 3,126.8, Budapest's BUX gained 2.15 pct to 24,277.17, and Prague's PX added 1.74 pct to 1,568.5.

'Money is returning to the market,' said Matthias Siller, who helps manage 3 bln eur in funds at Baring Asset Management in London. 'Volatility is still high, but I think the worse is behind us and we are in a tradable bear market.'

In Warsaw, TVN climbed 5 pct after the company, which runs 14 channels and Poland's largest internet portal, said fourth-quarter net profit rose 6 pct thanks to growing advertising sales.

TVN also said it expects revenues to rise 18-20 pct this year, or higher than a forecast 13 pct growth for the whole media market in Poland.

Upbeat forecast also lifted shares in publisher Agora, which gained 4.8 pct, as investors bet on positive results from the company, when it publishes earnings on Wednesday.

Europe's largest copper miner KGHM added 2.1 pct after copper surged to a 4 months high amid sharp declines in LME inventories and a rebound in demand from China.

Polish builder Polimex climbed 2.4 pct after the company said it had signed a deal to purchase five companies in Romania and Italy for up to 25 mln eur.

Prague shares gained, led by Telefonica (nyse: TEF - news - people ) O2 Czech Republic as investors bet the telecom will deliver handsome results when it kicks off Prague's earnings season later this week.

'Telefonica O2 CR was in strong focus today as investors expect positive results and should continue buying into the stock,' said Raduz Srom, of Atlantik FT brokerage in Prague.

Shares in the Czech phone group rose 2.3 pct. Analysts expect Telefonica to increase full-year profit by 20 pct to 9.71 bln crowns and announce a generous dividend proposal when it releases results Feb 21.

Developer ECM Real Estate Investments rose 3.3 pct to 898 crowns, continuing its recovery from an all-time low of 752 crowns hit at the end of January.

Banking stocks Erste Bank and Komercni Banka also rose, up 1.8 pct each.

In Budapest, trading was thin with oil-and-gas company MOL and Hungary's largest bank OTP rising 3.6 pct and 3.1 pct, respectively.

Drug maker Egis erased earlier gains to close 0.44 pct lower. The company said it would return a stake in Polands Anpharma, a subsidiary of Egiss majority owner Servier, for part of Anpharmas product portfolio. The deal is worth around 77 mln zlotys.

We should see markets stabilizing in the days and weeks ahead although sentiment will remain fragile in the face of any bad news, said Szabolcs Vaszko, a Budapest-based broker at Erste Bank.

Source: By Piotr Skolimowski, forbes.com


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