Wer mit Russland in einen vernünftigen Dialog eintreten will, muss die historischen Fakten anerkennen, bevor er moralisch urteilt und von Russland eine offene Diskussion oder gar Entschuldigung verlangt.
Neben der üblichen Arbeit in der Fraktionswoche, vor allem der Vorbereitung der Plenarwoche, beschäftigte mich einmal mehr das Verhältnis zwischen der EU und Russland.
Einerseits fand in Brüssel gestern ein Arbeitsfrühstück in kleinem Kreis zu diesem Thema statt. Dazu eingeladen hatte ein EU-Russland Forum, das unter Vorsitz von Paddy Ashdown, dem früheren Bosnien-Beauftagten der EU und noch früheren Chef der britischen Liberalen steht. Zwischen Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, dem Vorsitzenden des außenpolitischen Ausschusses des EU-Parlaments und den übrigen TeilnehmerInnen gab es große Meinungsverschiedenheiten. Der polnische Abgeordnete vertrat die Position der Zwillinge aus Warschau: Russland ist ein Gegner den man in die Knie zwingen muss, bevor man mit ihm als Partner umgehen kann.
Wesentlich sachlicher verlief eine Tagung, die unsere Fraktion gemeinsam mit den litauischen Freunden heute in Vilnius abhielt. Jan Marinus Wiersma erläuterte dabei ein Grundsatzpapier, das er und ich gemeinsam erarbeitet haben, ich selbst bezog mich nach einem Referat des litauischen Premierminister Gediminas Kirkilas auf das Verhältnis EU-Russland von seiner grundsätzlichen Seite.
Kein Grund für eine Eiszeit
Dabei gibt es historische und aktuelle Probleme, die einem besseren Verhältnis entgegen stehen. Leider hat Russland noch keinen Weg gefunden, mit der Rolle der Sowjetunion nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg vernünftig und offen umzugehen. Die Sowjetmacht kam in viele Länder als Befreier von der Naziherrschaft, blieb dann allerdings als Besatzungsmacht. Dieses Nichtumgehen mit der eigenen Geschichte belastet das Verhältnis zwischen Russland, den baltischen Staaten und Polen enorm.
Es ist richtig, dass auch von diesen Ländern nicht immer eine vernünftige und zukunftsorientierte Haltung kommt. Das ist aber keine Entschuldigung für das russische Verhalten. Allerdings können weder die Geschichte oder das oftmals unverständliche Verhalten gegenüber den kleinen Nachbarn noch die problematischen Entwicklungen in Russland selbst Grund für eine Eiszeit gegenüber Russland sein. Wir müssen wertegeleitet sein, unsere Interessen vertreten und dennoch pragmatisch vorgehen.
Historische Fakten anerkennen
Bei der Tagung in Vilnius waren auch einige sehr konstruktive russische Vertreter anwesend, mit denen gut zu diskutieren war. Zwei von ihnen kenne ich schon: Sie gehören einer neuen Partei- und Parlamentariergruppe an, die sich „Just Russia“ nennt und eine „linke“ Putin-Partei darstellt. Ob sich aus ihr tatsächlich irgendwann einmal eine sozialdemokratische Partei entwickeln wird, ist heute nicht abzusehen. Wir wollen jedenfalls als Fraktion den Kontakt pflegen, ohne allerdings allzu optimistisch zu sein. Gerade in Bezug auf Russland muss man seinen Realitätssinn bewahren.
Im Übrigen hat meine Bemerkung, dass Russland als Besatzungsmacht geblieben ist, diese Besatzung allerdings nicht mit jener der Nazis gleichgesetzt werden kann, einigen Staub aufgewirbelt. Diese beiden Besatzungen mit ihren jeweils unterschiedlichen historischen Vorraussetzungen und Ursachen sind aber einfach nicht vergleichbar. Wäre die Aggression von Nazideutschland gewesen, hätte es vielleicht die Besatzung der Sowjetunion nie gegeben. Das ist dabei keine Rechtfertigung der inneren oder äußeren Sowjetherrschaft, und das Argument ist in den Augen der Opfer auch nicht besonders relevant. Wer allerdings mit Russland in einen vernünftigen Dialog eintreten will, muss die historischen Fakten anerkennen, bevor er moralisch urteilt und von Russland eine offene Diskussion oder gar Entschuldigung verlangt.
EU-Russia: a complex but necessary partnership
Jan Marinus Wiersma, Hannes Swoboda; 30 June 2007
In recent years President Putin did not only strengthen his personal position in Russia, but also gave many Russians the impression – very often in line with reality – of a country with a rising degree of political stability and self-confidence.
But this stability was partly achieved by massive intervention in the media and the political sphere as well as by restrictions on civil rights (e.g.: new rules for NGOs). Freedom of expression (for example the possibility to criticise Putin"s Chechnya policy or to organise a public demonstration in the streets of Moscow) is suppressed. Journalists are being intimidated, or worse: see the recent murder of the journalist Politkovskaja. Political activity is managed within a defined framework and partly organised by Putin and his entourage in accordance with the new concept of `sovereign democracy´.
The economy is partly state controlled with the aim of serving political ambitions. Different economic powers struggle for a dominating influence. The international role of Russia, even when seen positively by many Russian citizens, raises questions. It is an expression of a new found self-confidence, of rising nationalism and sometimes arrogance and it leads to new forms of neo-colonialism especially in the relations with its neighbours.
The relations between the EU and Russia are at a critical stage. But neither resignation nor aggressiveness should dominate them. In the interest of our citizens we must pursue a comprehensive Russia policy with well defined aims for the areas where our relations can and must be improved. At the same time we must not stop to express in a clear and unambiguous way which are the basic values which should also be respected by our partners.
The overriding goal is to develop a partnership with Russia, which helps that country moving forward on the road towards more democracy, greater respect for the rule of law, good neighbour policies and a social market system with a high degree of transparency. We must admit that there is still a long way to go in this direction. But our criticism should not be based on an anti-Russian attitude but on a serious and strong will to help Russia to find its place in the international community of democratic states.
Politically and economically the EU needs Russia, and vice versa. Therefore both sides should avoid unhealthy dependencies and aim for interdependence with mutual benefits, which is the basis of a true partnership. The European Union needs a predictable, well defined strategy and a united EU speaking with a common voice to achieve such true partnership.
At the moment there are – from the point of view of the EU – a number of critical issues which hamper better relations with Russia and which should be dealt with in a constructive way, especially in the framework of the future renewed Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA). We should find a balance between the unavoidable critical attitude and the need for a constructive partnership.
Many neighbours of Russia became the EU´s neighbours too (Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and the South Caucasus). Both Russia and the EU have an interest in influencing the developments in these countries.
The European approach – aimed at creating a greater stability in its neighbourhood – consists of a policy of offering political and economic cooperation combined with financial incentives. Russia – wanting to preserve its preferential status – relies all too often on political pressure, sanctions and boycotts (e.g. on wine exports) and support for separatist movements like in South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Transnistria.. We have to clearly repudiate these neo-imperial tendencies and invite Russia to compete and/or cooperate with us in our joint neighbourhood by way of positive political and economic cooperation.
The European Union should strengthen its direct, bilateral links with the countries concerned. But we should also promote a multilateral framework for our cooperation. A possibility would be to enhance the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) with our eastern neighbours and to set up an EU-Black Sea Community to develop common policies on energy (especially energy transportation and distribution), on the environment, on migration etc. Russia should be invited to cooperate closely with that community. By establishing such an organisation, which should include a free trade area, we would send clear signs of support and cooperation to our neighbours without offering short term membership or even candidate status, which would be unrealistic. This will be a way to integrate these countries in a realistic and pragmatic strategy of cooperation with Russia by giving them the feeling not to be let down vis a vis a strong neighbour (with its ability and tendency to put political and economic pressure on them). The aim of such a community would be cooperation and not confrontation, but on a level playing field.
In return, the European Union should make it clear that it will not accept some of the aggressive and counter-productive policies recently developed by Russia towards some of the former Soviet states and that it is prepared to take measures to reduce their impact on these countries. By integrating the countries of the EU neighbourhood in a wider European framework – in a bilateral but also multilateral way – we could give those countries a higher degree of security and self-confidence, which would allow them to take a more pragmatic approach towards Russia. At the same time Russia would probably be more ready to develop a more constructive neighbourhood policy in the interest of its own security and economic development.
In addition to this enhanced neighbourhood approach, the EU needs a stronger Central Asia Policy. If we want to further diversify our energy imports, we need not only to improve our cooperation with the transit countries, but also with the oil and gas producing countries in Central Asia, in particular with those countries which have a policy of – slow – democratisation and balanced development, like Kazakhstan. With such a policy we would also strengthen the independence of those countries and offer Russia a constructive cooperation in this field.
For our cooperation with the countries of the Black Sea and in Central Asia a strong partnership with Turkey is vital. Therefore – without abstaining from a further strengthening of our European values and standards in the framework of the accession negotiations – we should treat Turkey as a strategic partner in the region. We must ensure that the increasing cooperation between Russia and Turkey is not directed against the EU. On the contrary, we should become part of that dynamic.
The energy question creates strong links but also many problems with Russia. The EU is dependent on energy (oil and gas) supplies from Russia, but Russia is also dependent on the European demand for these supplies, especially with the existing system of pipelines. Nevertheless we have to develop a policy of reducing our dependence from oil and gas in general and from Russia in particular.
Serious experts have expressed strong doubts on Russia"s capacity to supply enough energy resources to meet its internal demand and its agreed supplies of energy to the EU in ten years time. To avoid that risk, diversification is a must for the EU.
Even if our energy policy would meet all its targets, our economies will still not be able to survive without energy imports from Russia. A decisive diversification of energy supplies can not be carried out on the short term. Therefore, an agreed interdependence in the areas of production, transport, and distribution should be our main objective. Equitable and transparent economic and energy relations in particular are the necessary instruments to make such a balanced and agreed interdependence function. A clear dispute resolution mechanism, comparable to the WTO mechanism, should be part of the system. In this regard, we welcome the accession of Russia to the WTO, which will help improve the investment conditions in Russia.
The growing political power and dominance of the energy sector in Russia and the rising liberalisation of energy markets in the EU do not match. We cannot accept a growing economic role of Russia in the EU and our common neighbours – also beyond energy – when it is accompanied by increasing difficulties for our investors in Russia (see the recent experiences of Shell and BP. In the future Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) all these issues should be dealt with and solved satisfactorily.
Also for Russia there is no real alternative to a commonly agreed and well regulated interdependence with the European Union. The so-called BRIC-strategy – a close cooperation between Brazil, Russia, India and China – can at this moment not be considered as a valuable alternative to a closer cooperation with the European Union. Primarily, because Russia would have to compete with the already present companies with a higher technology input from Europe and the US and the well developed production (China), service (India) and agricultural (Brazil) sectors of the other BRIC countries. But it must also be stressed, that a possible redirection of energy supplies and distribution networks can only take place after a long time and at the expense of enormous costs.
Europe is and remains the best and most stable customer for Russian energy products. So Europe can talk to Russia on the basis of self-confidence and strength.
In representing their own interest, including the long-term ones, Europe and Russia should develop a strategy of cooperation and mutual interdependence for example in relation to the extension of the pipeline system proposed by Russia and the EU. Both will also look to other continents and regions. Both will win from a common strategy. But we should be realistic; there is still a long way to go.
One problem area in the upcoming PCA negotiations will be the issue of implementing universal values and European standards in the field of democracy, respect of human rights, and freedom of the media. In Moscow, there is growing resistance to EU policies based on this concept. Many Russian politicians consider their political system and its implementation of democratic standards to be sovereign. That means: no outside interference allowed.
The EU should not accept a denial of universally agreed values and its own basic standards. Real partners must also be able to discuss human rights issues. The EU countries and Russia signed up to the principles underlying the Council of Europe and the OSCE. Maybe the EU should be less `paternalistic´ and show more understanding for the complexity of Russian society, but we cannot just put aside our convictions. A real partnership excludes one-sidedness. The EU policy towards Russia will, therefore, always be a search for the right balance between economic interests, security in the shared neighbourhood and implementation of democratic standards.
In the field of democracy and human rights a close cooperation with the Council of Europe should be envisaged.
The EU and Russia have a common interest in multilateral solutions to global (and regional) issues. In this respect, in many cases the EU and Russia share the same point of view. Russia has been a strong supporter of a multilateral approach and the United Nations system. Russia is a party to the International Criminal Court, although it has yet to ratify the Rome statute. Russia´s participation also allowed with its adherence for the Kyoto protocol to enter into force.
Russia is also a key partner when it comes to the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea. It is a party in the six nation talks on North Korea and could play a crucial role in containing the explosive situation that developed there after North Korea´s nuclear test. Russia also participated in a constructive way in the search for a compromise on Iran´s nuclear program, by offering uranium enrichment capacity to the Iranians. If we look at those problems, there is no alternative to the development of a partnership with Russia.
One of the other hot issues, where a closer cooperation between the European Union and Russia is needed, is the solution of the Kosovo status problem. Europe"s approach is one of a double-track: promoting Serbia"s way towards Europe (visa facilitation, Stabilisation- and Association Agreement etc) and preparing Kosovo"s independence, starting with limited sovereignty under auspices of the EU. This is in the interest of stability in the region. Russia should be helpful in creating the conditions of a smooth transition from the status quo to a new order.