Wednesday, July 8, 2009


While President Obama reaches out to Russia and helps reset the relationship between the U.S. and Russia the EU should take practical steps to further co-operation. In a way Russians and Americans live in a similar system of ideas. America, too, is a country that is oriented primarily towards power and strength – in the broader and not just in the military sense. Russians don’t understand European subtleties and details . Russians act like Americans and are only interested in agreements that are of interest to them. Europeans pay most attention to Russia’s relationship with the US, as does Russia but it is Russia’s relationship with the EU that matters most for the future. While Russian-US relations naturally matter because of security, Russian- EU relations go wider. The two areas are increasingly connected through trade, migration, communications, the environment, culture, energy and technology. Each side knows that the other is an essential partner.

Russia and the EU countries have much in common, including facing the economic problems caused by an ageing population and shrinking workforce. Their trade interdependence is significant, but the fact that the EU is the less dependent partner is perhaps the first source of irritation in the relationship. The EU takes more than half of Russia’s exports (mainly of oil, gas and raw materials), but Russia only accounts for less than 10% of EU exports – it is the EU’s third most important market, but a long way behind the US and China.

Russia’s relationship with the EU goes far beyond economics: the cultural ties between the two areas are stronger than often perceived. Russians feel more at home, culturally, in Europe than anywhere else in the world.

The way forward lies in practical cooperation. Energy is one obvious area; global warming and climate change is another, food security, financial instability, terrorism, cooperating on such dossiers as human trafficking, child pornography, cybercrime and the exchange of counterterrorism information, cross-border security, such as terrorism, the arms trade, financial crime, illegal migration and environmental crime. There are common demographic problems to address, and EU expertise in dealing with AIDS and epidemics might be helpful. Specific programs on economic and regional development would smooth out the wrinkles in relations between the European Union and Russia. Contacts between people in general and between professionals in particular (peer to peer) can make a positive contribution to better understanding between the European Union and Russia and also establish the trust necessary to undertake more demanding projects. Cooperation can be sought in areas where each
party can learn from the other. In the field of research, for example, multiyear programmes could be set up in areas of common interest. The target groups could be knowledge institutions or schools and universities. The EU and Russia could develop a programme for cooperation in higher education, with funds to finance student grants, teacher exchange programmes and joint education and research programmes (courses, bachelor and master’s programmes, summer courses and the like). In tandem, the member states could take measures to strengthen cooperation with Russian higher education institutions. Universities, for example, could waive registration fees or provide funds for grants. In the field of culture, investments could be made in language programmes and courses in each other’s history and culture. Exchange programmes for primary and secondary schools and youth organisations would also be beneficial. Exchange programmes could be set up for music, theatre, opera and ballet companies and museum collections as well. Finance could be sought where necessary from sponsors in relevant industries. Last but not least, initiatives could be taken to encourage tourism to and from Russia. Such practical co-operation would certainly be most helpful to reset the relationship between both sides.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


In late May Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that the Kremlin had set up a special coordinating body led by the Presidential Chief of Staff Sergey Naryshkin in order to improve Russia’s image abroad. The new body, also includes Aleksey Gromov, the deputy head of the Presidential administration, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and Sergey Prikhodko, the assistant to the President for international affairs.The mission of this new coordination body is to play a more proactive role in policy coordination than its predecessor the Foreign Ministry commission.

Instead of applauding the move the pundits mostly Americans and/or Europeans started to question the validity of the efforts undertaken. For example, Mr. Ethan S. Burger, Adjunct Professor at the Georgetown University Law Center writes that ‘Russia does not need to establish a commission to determine how best to enhance its international image… it merely needs to change its behaviour.” or take the comments of Mr. Edward Lozansky, President of the American University in Moscow who writes that “the West will always look at Russia with suspicion…. and no PR efforts will dramatically help its standing in the West” and then comes the comments of Professor Stephen Blank, U.S. Army War College, in Pennsylvania who says that he doubts that “the decision to establish such a coordination body will markedly improve the presentation of the Kremlin’s image in foreign lands because the problem is the policies and the system, not their presentation.” and he goes on to declare that” indeed for Russia to have a better image abroad… Russia needs to change its policies and its tone which is increasingly aggressive and mendacious” and last but not least Sergei Roy, Editor of the Guardian in Moscow who asks if “the new commission is intended to be a discussion club, another talking shop for airing the views of various dignitaries, a sort of board of directors with powers to issue binding directives”.

With “friends” like that Russia can do without. I happen to think differently. The coordination body that has been put in place will be in the best position to scrutinize the activities taking place within the overall reputation remit and make the necessary adjustments. The point is to ensure that the efforts undertaken are harmonious to guarantee a joint national vision.

It is indeed a very good approach to have established a liaison system to encourage supportive action from appropriate organisations. It is important to modulate and articulate messages for all relevant channels. Therefore coordination is essential because the development of a national brand must be done in a coordinated way that adheres to a long term strategy. I view this commission as a move on the part of Russia to proactively attend to its image in the world market, to communicate to the world how things have progressed and how they are different.

This new commission is like a steward who is invested with the authority to direct and to implement. There simply needs to be an authority in place that has the power to act. Beside the private sector, there are many ministries whose efforts need to be aligned e.g. Foreign Affairs, Defence, Economy, Finance, Interior, Education and Science, Culture, Transport, Justice, Agriculture, Duma and Federal Council.

All countries communicate all the time. They send out millions of messages every day. Collectively, all these millions of messages represent an idea of what the nation as a whole is up to, what it feels, what it wants, what it believes in. Indeed it is the task of government to set the tone for these messages in a credible, coherent and realistic manner. This is the reason why this new commission should be endorsed by the external world instead of being challenged right from its creation.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


National identity is part of a nation's collective unconscious. It is based partly on memory and it informs a nation about who and where it i, where to go and how it perceives the best routes to get there. National identity influences the way Russia's interests are conceived and pursued.

For Russia the myth of greatness is a profound part of historical precedent, civilizational contribution or geopolitical structure and it seeks reognition on the world stage. Russian mentality is a great power mentality.

Russia sees itself as the natural centre of a new continental bloc (Eurasia) with its own unique, socio-political and spiritual values. The Eurasian connection allows Russia to fulfill its role as a conciliator, as a connecting country, as a country that is working for an interplay of different principles.

Eurasia's heartland is made up of the Russian Federation and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). From the heartland Russia is intent on developing strategic alliances with China, India, Japan, Korea and the Middle East Region. It is also interested in cooperation with the Asia Pacific Region including the southern hemisphere nations of Australia and New Zealand. From this grand Eurasian alliance close cooperation will also flourish with Africa and the states of Central and South America.

For Russia Eurasia is a worldview, a new dynamic vision of geopolitics, with unique cultural, political, economic and spiritual dimensions.

As former Foreign Minister of Russia under President Boris Yeltsin once said ' Russia is 'predestined' to be a great power.

What the West often doesn't understand is that Russia's mission in the world today is not to imitate the West but to initiate and support a multicultural dialogue of cultures, civilizations and states.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


While there are a growing number of successful, constructive and mutually beneficial business relations between Russia and the EU, the uncertainties in global financial markets and the recent tensions in the EU-Russia relationship have affected potential investors’ willingness to commit to new projects.

Political leaders on both sides need to reassure the business communities that they are strongly committed to constructive multilateral and bilateral negotiations on strengthening the trade and investment relationship. Political leaders on both sides are called upon to demonstrate the benefits that would be derived from the creation of a Common Economic Space between Russia and the EU and later to even closer integration. Inevitably, the governments on both sides will have a final word in this matter. But the ideas of business can only be fruitful if supported by political consent. Major initiatives in business have to be approved at the highest political level. General modernisation of Russia cannot move independently from government policy, nor can it contradict such a policy. Business people on both sides indicate that they long for an efficient economic partnership between Russia and Europe. The creation of a Common Economic Space would help remove the problems of export imbalances and “energy security”. French President Nicolas Sarkozy came up with the idea of creating such a Common Economic Space between Russia and the EU in order to forge a new relationship with Russia based on trust and tighter integration. “I don't see Russia as a determined rival to the European Union," Sarkozy told the Parliament. "I think, on the contrary, that it is necessary, in the future, to lay the basis of a Common Economic Space between Russia and the EU.” He added that Europe and Russia needed each other, with Russia possessing the energy resources and Europe the technology that Moscow needs. For her part Ferrero Waldner Commissioner for External Relations stressed that economic and trade relations between the EU and Russia were getting stronger, explaining that Russia was the EU's third most important trading partner and growth rates were up to 20% per year. Energy is a major factor, but there is impressive growth in services too, she revealed.

With its recent high growth rates and emerging middle class, Russia is an important emerging market right on EU’s doorstep that offers opportunities, notwithstanding the effects of the present financial crisis, Ferreo-Waldner said. She added that the EU was a major investor in Russia, accounting for 80% of cumulative foreign investment, while a significant share of Russian foreign reserves are in euro, making Russia one of the largest holders of euro-denominated assets in the world.

The EU and Russia should set an example and work together on the creation of such Common Economic Space and the business communities should be invited to participate in these discussions.


Article written by Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's Permanent Representative to NATO

I reproduce the Article of Mr. Dmitry Rogozin that was published in European Voice 'Comment Section' on 25 June 2009 for increasing public awareness about Russia and the EU.

Russia and the EU are two ends of a thread that binds Europe together. They should take steps to defend its perimeters.

The western media often artificially justaxpose Europe and Russia as completely distinct civilisations with manifestly dissimilar values. This results in mutual suspicion and speculation that each pole of the European continent is following a 'special path'. This vision is, at best, a profound delusion and is blind to history.

Russia is and always will be a European nation, representing the eastern vector of Europe's political and cultural development. Since European civilisation split into the Roman and the Byzantine empires, there has been a form of rivalry between Europe's east and west, a rivalry that manifests itself in Russia's relations with the EU and NATO. Nonetheless, Russia and the EU are two ends of a thread that binds together the entire European continent.

Today, the identity of the west is being challenged by colossal cultural and spiritual pressures from the south. Nations conquered in the past are now invading Europe, changing dramatically not only its external but also its inner world. Europe can no longer assimilate huge inflows of alien cultures. Misinterpreting the sage principle of 'tolerance', the west has abandoned the fight to preserve values inherent in European civilisation. Instead of instilling European culture in their new compatriots, the west's elites have concealed the problems in close communities. This cowardly escape from the realities of globalisation will lead to the demise of Europe and its culture.

Western elites have sought to substitute the process of globalisation with plans of salvation for European civilisation. But new projects, such as NATO's enlargement to the east and the Eastern Partnership, pose a greater threat to Europe than if the west took no action at all. The wider that NATO's and the EU's areas of responsibility become, the weaker they become. Taking up the problems and disputes of Europe's eastern half is wearing out its spirit as a civilisation.

Whether Brussels likes or not, Russia is becoming the centre of the European tradition. It is steadily imparting European culture to eastern territories. José Manuel Barroso and Javier Solana who in May visited the grand European city of Khabarovsk in the Russian far east could see for themselves how outdated is Charles de Gaulle's slogan of a "Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals". The Russians have expanded Europe to the shores of Alaska and the Kurile Islands.

Whatever Russia's developmental problems, they are insignificant compared to the threat to the survival of European civilisation. The west may be procuring eastern European countries for itself, but in a genuine cultural and spiritual sense, western Europe is shrinking rather than growing.

Thus, the paradox today is that Europe's western half is shrivelling, while its eastern half is expanding. Russia is now Europe's spiritual guardian, as Byzantinum prolonged the 'cause of Rome' for a millennium after Rome collapsed under the unslaught of the barbarians. The writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky argued that, for Russians, Europe is a 'second fatherland'. Fear of the new Russia is simply unjustified. Russia is the west's most natural and reliable ally: The sooner the west realises that, the greater the chance of speaking of our common European fate not just in the past tense.

It is in Russia-NATO relations that Russia's relations with the west are most strikingly revealed. If we deepen Russia-NATO co-operation, build up trust and crystallise a 'common cause', we can succeed in building a united Europe. Russia does not wish to join NATO. It does not wish to 'dissolve the alliance'. NATO and Russia will maintain different approaches- but we should learn to defend both European approaches. That is best done by concerted action along the perimeters of both Europes. With that goal in mind, Russia is ready to restore relations with the alliance when Russian and NATO foreign ministers meet in Corfu on 27 June.

It is only through understanding Europe's political processes in their historical context that we can forge a true secure future for all countries from the Atlantic to the European city of Khabarovsk.

Friday, June 26, 2009


On the occasion of the EU-RUSSIA SUMMIT held in Moscow on 29 May 2000 (9 years ago), a joint statement was issued by both sides including The President of the European Council assisted by the The Secretary General of the Council/The High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy of the EU, the President of the Commission of the European Communities and the President of the Russian Federation. Basically,

Both the leaders of the European Union and the Russian Federation reaffirmed the importance they attach to the development of their relations in all areas. The partnership and the reinforced political dialogue aimed at promoting a stable and prosperous Europe, based on the principles of democracy, respect for human rights, the rule of law and the market economy.

The Russian side emphasised that developments in Russia supported by the Russian people confirm its European vocation, and that Russia is and will remain a constructive, reliable and responsible partner in working towards a new multipolar system of international relations, based on strict implementation of the international law.

Both sides confirmed the fundamental importance of the PCA and the subsequent Strategies adopted by the Parties for their relations in order to promote a steady and dynamic development in cooperation between Russia and European Union, including in the areas of economy, finance and science and technology. In this context both sides noted some of the highlights of activity now underway, for instance, in the fields of science and technology, in the field of satellite applications for air navigation and radio communication purposes (GLONASS/GALILEO) as well in the domains of nuclear power and safety issues, and transport. Both sides also agreed on the need to cooperate further in developing educational exchanges and training activities.

Both sides set out their priorities in implementing the above-mentioned Strategies. Russia saw these priorities in the areas of ensuring security in Europe, trade, investment, science and technological and cross-border cooperation, collaboration in fighting organised crime and in contacts with the EU in the sphere of its common foreign and security policy.

In their wide-ranging discussions both sides considered ways of giving additional momentum to Russia-EU cooperation with the aim of achieving concrete results. They declared that further steps would be necessary to encourage contacts between their political, parliamentary, business, public and academic circles, between their civil societies and their young people. In this, as well as in the development of regional ties, initiatives in the framework of bilateral cooperation between the Russian Federation and individual EU Member States would be of great significance.

In the end both sides agreed that their talks in Moscow had shown the great potential for cooperation and that they had made an important step towards effective use of this potential in the long-term interests of the Russian Federation and the European Union, but also in the interests of all peoples of Europe.

The point of this “Flash Back” is to show that both sides had established solid grounds for cooperation nearly 10 years ago.

Since then and taking as an example energy cooperation relations between both sides have been marked by ambiguities. For the EU, energy security means guaranteeing its supplies, so it insists Russia opens its market to EU investors to ensure maximum production and low prices. For Russia, energy security means guaranteeing its exports at the best price. The Russian government does not rule out foreign investment, but considers the energy sector too important to be left to market forces alone. It wants to conserve Russia’s reserves and participate in the whole chain of production and distribution, including distribution in Europe, where the greatest profits are to be made. This has quickly become a political issue. The idea that a country should be able to establish state control over energy has been anathema to the apostles of free enterprise, especially as the idea is likely to catch on.

Pundits in Brussels argue that Russia needs European capital just as much as the EU needs Russian gas. They forget that Russia has no intention of submitting energy to the laws of the market alone and that there is a difference between consumer countries and a producer country courted by a power such as China, which is prepared to pay a high price to secure its energy future.[ Ties between Moscow and Beijing have warmed in recent years after a period during the Cold War when the two giant neighbours were rivals for supremacy in the Communist world. Last year the two countries signed a landmark deal to build a pipeline connecting Siberian oil fields to energy-hungry China . Beijing has been eager to obtain greater access to Russia’s immense energy resources].

In tomorrow’s world dominated by the emergence of China, partnership with Russia could be one of the EU’s best cards.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Anti-Russian sentiment covers a wide spectrum of prejudices, dislikes or fears of Russia, Russians, or Russian culture, including Russophobia. Today the term “Russophobia” is also used more specifically to describe clichés preserved from the times of the Cold War. Many prejudices often introduced as elements of political war against the Soviet Union, are still observed in the discussions of the relations with Russia—whose leadership are seen as omitting from and manipulating memorialization of its Soviet past. Dislike of Russians is sometimes seen as a backlash of the policy of Russification in the times of Imperial Russia and Soviet Union and backlash against the policies of modern Russian government. However, Russophobia has a long tradition and already existed many centuries before Russia became one of the major powers in Europe.

During the 19th century the competition with Russia for the spheres of influence and colonies was a possible reason for the Russophobia in Great Britain where British propaganda of the time portrayed Russians as uncultivated Asiatic barbarians. These views spread to other parts of the world and are frequently reflected in literature of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Promotheism political strategy, conceived by Polish chief of state Jozef Pilsudski, had as its aim the weakening of Tsarist Russia and later the Soviet Union. The Pan-Slavism movement that coincided with the Hungarian uprising of 1848 included anti-Russian sentiment, a reaction to Russia's involvement on the Austrian side of the conflict. This resulted in enmity of Austria-Hungary towards eastern orientation of many of its Slavic constituents in the second half of the 19th century. The elites began to see Russia as a threat and an enemy of Austro-Hungarian multi-ethnic empire. The public opinion became even more radicalized and Russophobic, as the common anti-Russian stereotypes fell onto a fertile ground.

In the 1930s, Adolf Hitler attempted to strengthen the Russophobe stereotypes with his racial theory of subhumans, in part to rationalize and justify the German invasion of The Soviet Union and the atrocities committed against its populace.

Dr. Vlad Sobell of Daiwa Research Institute (a member company of Daiwa Securities Group) claims that what he sees as "Russophobic sentiment" in the West is a result of the West failing to adapt and change its historical attitude towards Russia, even as Russia has in his opinion ditched its ideology and opted for pure pragmatism, successfully driving its economic revival. He further claims that the west remained stuck with its unchanged and unchanging beliefs. He continues, that if anything, the orthodoxy was further entrenched by the West's perception, that, having won the epic fight against totalitarianism, it must forever remain the only game in town.

Some Russian and Western commentators express concern about a far too negative coverage of Russia in Western media (some Russians even describe this as a"war of information"). In April 2007 David Johnson, founder of the Johnson’s Russia List said in an interview to the Moscow News: "I am sympathetic to the view that these days Russia is perhaps getting too dark a portrayal in most Western media. Or at least that critical views need to be supplemented with other kinds of information and analysis. An openness to different views is still warranted."

On the Western side , it would be welcome to see stronger public leadership by Western governing elites, who need to communicate to their public an honest view of realities in Russia – not “the truth about Russia understood as the sum total of negative things that can be said, but something a lot better digested than that. And they need to communicate a considered view to their own media about whether media coverage is really doing the public and the government a service by giving free rein to Russia-bashing, which is often unrestrained by considerations of balance or accuracy. Western governments have an interest in maintaining (or rebuilding) a constructive long-term engagement policy toward Russia.