Franco Frattini awarded with the honorary degree in Moscow


Franco Frattini awarded with the honorary degree
by the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs of Russia
Frattini's statement:  "Russia and the West"
Moscow 16 May, 2014

Since Putin’s second term in 2004, Moscow’s approach towards Europe (and the USA) is influenced by what the Russians call “usual Western attitude” i.e. demand concessions from Russia without giving little or nothing in return, and includes a growing appreciation of the role of the Federation in the post- Soviet space, in what significantly Muscovite political science called “Near Abroad” and on which the Kremlin claims a favourite political, military and economic position. This vigorously assertive policy has experienced a temporary attenuation, more in tone than in substance, during the mandate of Dmitry Medvedev. The revaluation of eurasism is accompanied by very hard concern for the future enlargement of both NATO and the European Union, especially with regard to Ukraine, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

This is the difficult context that both the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have to take in consideration. Even more delicate, especially in the context of enlargement, in the light of the eloquent demographic instance on which the geo-strategic assessments of the Kremlin is grafted and that make the situation further complicated, in the light of the presence of ethnic Russians in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Kyrgyrstan, but also Latvia, Estonia and Moldova. This is why Russia seen from the west is not the same seen from Moscow.

Let’s start from the end: the case of Ukraine
No one of the European Union enlargements should be considered as a desire to lay siege to the Russian Federation or damage its interests. Even in the recent case of Kiev. Although there is an evident social division upon the Ukrainian people, the reasons of both of the factions should be analysed: undoubtedly EU membership would have important implications in terms of adaptation of Ukrainian legislation to EU standards, with good progress in terms of legal certainty and transparency of administrative procedures. At the same time, it would pose two important strategic and political issues: the Union would be a direct neighbor of Russia (neglecting the Kaliningrad region) and there would be the issue of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, whose basis of Sevastopol would be on Union’s territory; but this problem no longer exist after the annexation of the Crimean Republic from the Russian Federation. Moreover, there is the issue of the cultural and linguistic rights of the Russian population of Ukraine. In other words, it’s clear that such a questions need serious evaluation and pragmatic approach. In any case the decision should be left only to the sovereign will of the Ukrainian people and neither Russia nor Europe and anybody else should forget it.

Someone has suggested that in the process that would lead to the association of Ukraine with the EU, Brussels was wrong to exclude definitely the Kremlin. The supporters of this exclusion argued that Ukraine is a sovereign state and as such has full authority to negotiate with other parties and that the involvement of a third actor would be unique in the panorama of international law. It is undoubtedly correct observation , however, should not be forgotten that the same disintegration of the USSR was a unique when compared with the end of the other empires, anx exception which saw the permanence of millions of Russians in the various republics (only in Ukraine are nearly 8.5 million) and the maintenance of strong cultural, economic and political ties. A closer look, as well as understandable strategic reasons , other factors make Moscow heavily involved in the fate of the post-Soviet space and expect to exclude it can lead to unforeseen consequences. Russia has always been firm on this point, even in moments of greatest weakness in the 90s, and even more so today, back actor on the world stage, does not intend to leave space for autonomous initiatives of other powers in the area.

EU has been weak and divided, at the beginning of the crisis that led to the falling of Yanukovich Government.

I think the biggest mistake was, from the EU side, to have shown the Eastern neighborhood policy and in particular the perspectives of EU-Ukraine association, like a preferential pre-accession way, even opening soon the door for a NATO membership, despite all the criteria that many times had been reaffirmed on enlargement of EU and NATO.

This made an understandable illusion in the hearts and minds of millions of Ukrainians, paved the way for the tough, unilateral action from Moscow in Crimea and in addiction, was accompanied by a purely ridiculous financial support offered by EU to Ukrainians, which made EU semi-irrelevant on the management of the crisis, which is in the hands of US, Russia and under certain aspects OSCE and UN.

The real question concerns the future of the Ukrainian nation where pro-Russian regions decide to follow the example of the Crimean peninsula and organize referendum to reunify with Moscow. At this stage, a lasting civil war scenario would be not unthinkable hypothesis. An intelligent alternative could be the transformation of Ukraine into a federal sense, as proposed by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov during a meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State Kerry, granting a degree of autonomy to the individual regions so as to ensure the protection of conspicuous Russian communities of south-eastern districts. This might be the best solution in order to maintain the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Apparently, also the Ukrainian P.M. seems to be ready to guarantee decentralization and rights for the Russian minorities.

Europe needs Russia and Russia needs Europe. Any solution of the affaire Ukraine will have to take this into consideration. Moreover we have numerous examples of how good cooperation between Italy and Russia and between Russia and Europe as a whole is provided for important achievements in all fields. I will limit myself here to mention some of the most significant.

Russia and the European Union: a general overview
The EU-Russian official relations date back more than 20 years. Already on 18 December 1989 the then Soviet Union and the European Communities signed the Agreement on Trade and Commercial and Economic Cooperation. The first major step towards a closer cooperation was the conclusion of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) in 1994. The PCA established a framework for the political dialogue between Russia and the EU in a number of key spheres, including economy, energy, internal and external security.

Nowadays the annual turnover between Russia and the EU member states exceeds 200 billion € and Russia became the third trade partner of the EU after the US and China. More than half of Russian foreign trade turnover and two thirds of cumulative foreign investments in Russian economy fall into the EU’s share.

Another fundamental passage was the definition of four common spaces during the EU-Russia St. Petersburg Summit in May 2003. 

1) Common Economic Space
It aims at the creation of an open and integrated market between the EU and Russia by achieving transparency and non-discrimination, as well as by mutually reducing barriers to trade and investment. Russia’s accession to the WTO in August 2012, after 18 years of negotiations, encouraged even more such process.

2) Common Space of Freedom, Security and Justice
Concrete results are the Visa facilitation and Readmission Agreements between the EU and Russia and by the implementation of the local border traffic between the Kaliningrad exclave and north-eastern Poland in 2012. Other spheres of common activity are border management and the reform of the Russian judiciary, as well as fight against crime and money laundering.
3) Common Space of External Security
4) Common Space of Research and Education

To strengthen cooperation and promote joint projects and exchange between Universities and Research Centers. The creation of a European Research Area and the implementation of the European programmes Tempus and Erasmus Mundus were very significant steps.

Partnership between Russia and the EU is one of the cornerstones to maintain stability and prosperity not only in Europe, but world-wide. Joint responsibility for finding responses to present-day challenges as well as solid and mainly positive foundations of traditional, sometimes centuries-old relations with individual EU member states, common principles and ideals of European civilization, similarities of our historical destinies: all this shapes a genuinely strategic character of the Russia-EU partnership.

These few words pronounced by Sergey Lavrov are an interesting evidence of this Russia’s attitude: “Being the largest geopolitical entities on the European continent, Russia and the EU are interdependent in many spheres, linked by their common civilization roots, culture, history, and future. The agenda of our interaction is multidimensional and covers various sectors. We are willing to enhance it – on the basis, of course of equality and mutual benefit”.
Speaking frankly, the real problem is the inability of the two sides of the Atlantic ocean to define a common strategy towards Moscow. 
The United States range from the opportunity to secure the cooperation of the Russians on issues such as terrorism and nuclear proliferation and a tendency to expand their influence in the Euro-Asian space. The Europeans, who are serving a heavy dependence on Russian energy supplies, are divided: some countries - most of the former satellites of the USSR and with different shades Great Britain and some Nordic countries - promoting a hard line, almost containment, towards Russia while others - Italy, Germany, France, Spain - consider of vital interest to both national and EU level to establish with the Kremlin a relationship of cooperation and dialogue. The Western divisions mean that in many cases Russia was able to take the initiative forcing the EU and the U.S. to mere "reaction options". It should be stressed that the EU is the main trading partner of Russia and Moscow may detect that looks to Europe with a view to mutual opportunities, as well as a factor of moderation of the anti-Russian spirit of some former socialist countries.
Today, despite the Ukrainian crisis, we all are called upon to a real de-escalation, first by urging the parties to implement in full Geneva agreement.

We cannot, and first, we Europeans, afford a new “cold war” atmosphere. For political and not only economic, reasons.

But also Russia would be seriously damaged by the further increase of tensions.

I don’t consider that a perspective of Russia “obliged” to turn to East and to be pulled further toward China, would be a better perspective than a Russian Federation playing a balancing partnership with both, EU and far-Asian neighbours.

In the late 90’s energy policy used to be indicated as “the most positive component in bilateral relations that would help to lead our common European continent into deeper integration”. However, over the years, energy relations between the EU and the Russian Federation have been subject to considerable media exposure. In some cases, both Moscow and Brussels had to underline their different points of view. In the meantime economic and industrial cooperation between several if not most of our Member States and the Russian Federation and between European and Russian companies in and outside the energy sector have been developing significantly. Today more than 10.000 European and Russian companies are developing activities in each other's markets, creating the firm basis for interdependency. The concrete experience would indicate that energy companies have often been ahead of their respective governments in establishing relations by advancing commercial ties at an industrial level, thereby strengthening energy cooperation and security in Europe and contributing to the further economic integration.
However, the partners’ energy cooperation is hindered by several factors:
- Firstly different visions of how the sector should be best organized. As regards the Russian side, its government document on energy strategy up to 2030 emphasizes budgetary efficiency, modernization and the stability of institutions. Meanwhile, the EU 2006 Green Paper focuses on liberalization, competition through a rigid separation of production, transportation and distribution. Brussels views the common energy market as a space liberalized to the greatest possible extent subject to the common European rules.

- Secondly the energy sector represents an intricate combination of economic and political issues, an instrument to gain high profits and to strengthen national security. It gives rise to a politicization that have engulfed the Moscow-Brussels relationship many times, in particular for the suspension of Russian gas deliveries. The EU intends to integrate Russia into its market regime, while Moscow seeks to pragmatically maximize its earnings and due to its foreign policy sees the EU attitude as interference in domestic affairs.

Last but not least, it is obvious that infrastructures are a fundamental factor in order to guarantee reliable and demand-meeting supplies of energy. Both Russia and the European Union plan to construct a number of new pipelines, including gas pipelines, which are to meet demand on markets in medium- and long-term prospects. The Nord Stream, South Stream and Nabucco gas pipeline are among them.

The Energy Dialogue remains one of the most important aspects of cooperation between Russia and the EU and has identified several common and complementary interests for which concrete actions in the short and medium-term are implemented.

· Ensure reliable energy supplies in the short and long-term future

· Increase energy efficiency

· Secure long term investment

· Open up energy markets

· Diversify the range of imports and exports of energy products

· Enhance the technological base of the energy sector of the economy

· Develop the legal basis for energy production and transport

· Ensure the physical security of transport networks

· Alleviate the impacts of the economic and financial crisis on the energy sector

The Dialogue also has an environmental aspect: it aims to reduce the impact of energy infrastructure on the environment, to facilitate the market penetration of more environmentally friendly technologies and energy resources and to promote energy efficiency and energy saving.

On all these issues more than 100 European and Russian experts from the private and academic sectors and the administrations are working together to discuss investments, infrastructures, trade and energy efficiency issues and to prepare further proposals for the Energy Dialogue.

For the EU, the long-term security of energy supplies is a major concern. It is important to agree on a set of realistic and mutually beneficial commitments with Russia that will facilitate EU-Russia energy cooperation and to identify concrete steps to rapidly improve the investment climate. For these reasons, the Dialogue supports policy reform in the Russian energy sector.

For Russia, it is important to attract investment to maintain and increase its oil and gas production, to rehabilitate and upgrade its energy infrastructure and to use knowledge and technology transfers as a means of enhancing economic growth. Variables in these processes are quality, the timing and implementation of policy reforms, the deregulation of monopolies, the freeing up of energy tariffs, access to networks, investment protection and transit issues (but does Moscow really want to do it?). Instead of simply – and rightly – trying to guarantee continuity on Russian gas supply, we Europeans should address (or, better, should have already addressed) some burning issues “at home”.

1. We lack energy interconnections

2. We have extremely limited or no capacity to pump gas from West to East, so it’s illusory to talk on EU supplying gas to Ukraine. 

3. We don’t have yet an integrated EU energy security policy.

When Germany decided it was in its interest, North Stream was easily negotiated bilaterally with Russia and Baltic States were simply by-passed by that energy infrastructure! And now, it is very difficult that EU countries committed to establish South Stream after long negotiations simply give up that important perspective!

At the end, coming back to Ukraine, I think that Russia, while pretending protection of Russian minorities, would prefer to see Ukraine solvent on its energy debt to Moscow, thanks to Western aid instead of dividing the country and running further risk of insolvency from a destroyed country. 

In today’s globalized and interdependent world, we all – and first Europeans – are interested in reengaging Russia and avoiding its isolation.

First, because I think that in the framework of new emerging players, Brics will anyway continue to keep and to strengthen mutual relations within the group, and it is not in the interest of Europe to see Russia not as a bridge with Asia and new global players, but as an adversary. 

Secondly, because the West needs Russia, as Russia needs us, to contribute solving crisis that otherwise would become lasting catastrophic scenarios.

How can we go to peace, stability and prosperity in Syria or Northern Africa, or come up with an acceptable perspective on preventing nuclear proliferation in Iran, without having Moscow (even more than Beijing) with us and not as an obstacle? 

How can we look at the full implementation of Start Agreement or disarmament if Russia doesn’t cooperate? 

How can we look at Afghanistan’s future of peace and stability, if Russia will not be cooperating as it has been doing also under logistical aspects? 

We have been working to make progress on EU-Russia visa regime, with the perspective to achieve a freedom of circulation that is one of the condition for people to people contacts, so strengthening not only economic ties, but also cultural and human relations, and at the end indispensable mutual trust, which unfortunately is now seriously damaged between Russia and the West.

Russia should continue to be considered a strong partner of EU and the West in general, if we want to fight piracy or international drug trafficking, while it is clear to everybody that unless Russia on board the vision of a world without weapons of mass destruction will remain an illusory dream.

So I think that we Europeans have a special responsibility. 

We have to be stronger and politically united to be a strong, united and open minded counterpart on Russia.

Firmness on our principles and values should go hand in hand with focusing on our primary interests.

Sometimes, they will no coincide with that of Russia.

But, at the end, the more EU and the West will be united and serious counterpart, the more the way of imposing sanctions to help democracy will lose centrality.

And I strongly hope that Russia leadership will agree that mutual respect, dialogue, implementations of all the commitments taken should prevail over the perspective of confrontation and containment.


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Pubblicato da Franco Frattini il giorno 20.5.14. per la sezione , , , , , , . Puoi essere aggiornato sui post, i commenti degli utenti e le risposte utilizzando il servizio di RSS 2.0. Scrivi un commento e partecipa anche tu alla discussione su questo tema.

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