The Europe-Russia: Individuals-to-Individuals Dialogue roundtable befell in Prague on June eight-9, 2017, six months after the profitable Boris Nemtsov Forum in Brussels. The assembly thought-about short- and lengthy-time period potentialities for stabilizing EU-Russia ties and creating linkages and patterns of cooperation to organize a path for Russia’s reintegration with Europe.The occasion, organized by Open Russia and the Institute of Modern Russia, introduced collectively 32 members, amongst them MEPs, politicians, journalists and excessive profile consultants from Russia and the EU. Karel Schwarzenberg, Chairman of the Committee of Overseas Affairs of the Chamber of Deputies in the Parliament of the Czech Republic, was the visitor speaker at a dinner organized through the occasion.
Under are the important thing provisions of the report:
How Russia and Europe see one another
The present Russian management doesn't take into account Russia to be a European nation.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has publicly repeated the stereotype that having parliamentary democracy of the European sort can be a catastrophe for Russia. An official report printed by the Russian Ministry of Tradition suggests that Russia will not be half of Europe. The idea of russkiy mir (“Russian world”) could be very un-European and focuses on increasing Russia’s affect with out accepting European values.
Western leaders typically harbor illusions about their Russian counterparts. This was, for instance, the case with President Roosevelt, who regardless of proof on the contrary believed Stalin would by no means hurt American pursuits. It will be important to not construct coverage based mostly on illusions, however to make correct diagnoses and suggest enough options.
The Kremlin makes use of worldwide affairs as a instrument to affect inside politics.
The robust backing for Putin in Russian society is assist for an aggressive international coverage. On inside coverage there's a far more destructive response to the authorities’ actions in society, even the actions of the president. Individuals in the West have a tendency to not see this nuance.
Europe’s intuition has been to attempt to search compromises with the Russian authorities. That was the idea for the talks in Minsk, which efficiently contained army aggression. However no progress in the negotiations ensued. The Kremlin is partly entangled in its personal propaganda machine, which makes it unprepared for developments in Europe. It could additionally result in dangerous selections, for the reason that Kremlin believes its personal propaganda that paints the West as weak and unable to reply.
Worldwide traders in Russia are likely to arrange places of work in Moscow and, consequently, additionally have a tendency to contemplate Russia a European nation. On the identical time, as some members identified, even inside the European Union there are nonetheless locations (particularly Central Europe) the place there are arguments over what constitutes European values.
Democracy in Russia
The West should not fall for the rhetoric a couple of distinctive Russia that can't be genuinely democratic.
It ought to be clear that Russia both is or will not be a democracy, and that there isn't any such factor as a “particular” democracy. A return to good relations will solely be attainable when the Kremlin reverts to following European requirements of conduct, though some of the members famous that getting again on a European observe can be removed from simple.
Official Russia and Russian civil society
The liberal opposition, against Putin’s regime, sees Russia as half of Europe.
The EU should put extra stress on the Kremlin and cease treating the present authorities as representatives of the entire of Russian society. The Russian public is predominately in the arms of the Kremlin, for the reason that state-managed media has management of the narrative. On the identical time, the EU is failing to get its message throughout to Russian society.
Within the mild of historic experiences regarding change of energy in Russia, it is usually crucial to deal with schooling and making ready folks in a position to take accountability for the nation when the time comes. On this context, it is very important strengthen tutorial cooperation between Russia and the EU, in addition to trade applications and scholarships.
There's a want for an alternate imaginative and prescient of Russia’s future based mostly on European values.
Additionally it is essential for Europe to create more practical and accessible instruments to assist civil society in Russia, as present varieties of assist are unreachable for a lot of small civil society actors in Russia. Current name for proposals inside the framework of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, for example, helps initiatives looking for massive-scale funding. Many smaller civil society actors in Russia in search of smaller-scale financing don't have any means to use for EU funds.
Hope for the long run lies in constructing different ties and utilizing different language in mutual relations between Russia and EU.
Many Russian residents share European values. The ratio between them and those that share archaic values is altering. Russia is geographically break up between Europe and Asia, and a few of the members famous that the perspective in direction of European values divides Russia. A big swathe of Russian society ignores politics and elections utterly. The division of European-oriented and Asia–oriented Russia will be seen not solely in society, but in addition in the nation’s elites. Some of the elites have an interest in integrating Russia additional into the worldwide financial system.
Kremlin aggression in Ukraine and its significance for EU-Russia relations
The scenario in Ukraine is an instance of impasse in the EU-Russia relationship.
The instance of Ukraine exhibits that there's willingness on the half of the Russian authorities to interact in warfare. Nevertheless, the scenario in Ukraine will not be the trigger, however the consequence of earlier errors in relations with the Kremlin.
For the time being, Europe ought to attempt to mitigate the scenario in areas the place it's attainable to take action, and work to keep away from an escalation of the warfare in and out of doors of Ukraine. One other doubtlessly harmful scenario that can affect the EU–Russia relationship is the Kremlin’s involvement in Syria, in addition to the allegation of hacking and different makes an attempt to affect electoral processes in Europe. One participant famous that the obvious hacker assault that led to the isolation of Qatar may very well be considered as one other Kremlin-fueled battle.
One of the members warned in opposition to the chance of a warfare being began by the Russian management in the close to future. The authorities are making ready Russia’s army and technological functionality for confrontation, and in explicit for a confrontation with the West. The present authorities doesn't perceive that its coverage will influence negatively on Russia’s growth. Not all members shared this view. On the topic of Ukraine it was famous that, in financial phrases, the annexation of Japanese Ukraine can be very tough for Russia, particularly in phrases of sustaining social requirements in the brand new territory.
The professional-European half of Russian society can be considerably strengthened if it might level to the success of democratic reforms in one of the Japanese Partnership international locations, particularly Ukraine.
That can be the Kremlin’s greatest concern. It's due to this fact essential for the West to assist Ukraine and different Japanese Partnership international locations all through their transition. For the time being, EU strategic help is extra targeted on Europe’s southern neighbors than its japanese ones. The standard Russian sphere of affect has began to fracture as international locations like Ukraine and Georgia show that they don't need to belong to that circle. The Kremlin will not be ready to allow them to go.
It was additionally famous by some of the members that if Europe fails to react strongly to aggressive actions by Russia, the scenario could also be similar to the annexation of the Sudetenland by Nazi Germany. The shortage of response from Europe elevated Hitler’s urge for food for seizing extra territory. This might additionally occur in the case of the present Russian management.
Guiding rules for EU-Russia relations
Russia is an official member of establishments and our bodies representing Europe and European values. Russia has been a member of the Council of Europe since 1996 and a signatory of the European Conference on Human Rights since 1998. Attributable to these commitments, Russia is obliged to observe primary European requirements, equivalent to the correct to free elections. Russia can be an element of Europe in phrases of commerce, as many international locations in Europe purchase Russian merchandise, particularly oil and gasoline, and Russia is a major importer of European manufactured items. Within the mild of this, it's not possible to argue that human rights are merely an inside concern for Russia, as Russia is linked to worldwide establishments and treaties it has signed.
It will be important for Europe to all the time hold human rights and core European values in thoughts when conducting dialogue with Russia, particularly on a bilateral degree. EU coverage in direction of Russia is at present based mostly on sanctions and five guiding principles for EU-Russia relations. These pointers are:
- implementation of the Minsk settlement
- strengthened relations with the EU’s Japanese Partnership allies and different neighbors
- strengthening EU resilience to Russian threats
- selective engagement with Russia
- important engagement in folks-to-folks contact and assist for Russian civil society
Europe ought to speak on to Russian civil society.
Europe ought to conduct an official dialogue with Russian civil society utilizing mechanisms that aren't managed by the Kremlin. If the Russian authorities is ready to direct the civil society dialogue, the talks will solely legitimize state-managed civil society actors. As a substitute, the EU ought to search to construct different ties and to make use of these to complement its contacts with Russian officialdom. It's important that EU international locations hear instantly from civil society what is occurring on the grassroots degree throughout Russia.
As half of this course of, European establishments also needs to set up channels to speak with the professional-European half of Russian society in order to keep up dialogue with those that might be shaping the long run of Russia.
European authorities ought to all the time ask the place the cash for Russian investments in their respective international locations comes from.
The latter is particularly essential in mild of the truth that the Kremlin is actively supporting forces in Europe that need to undermine European and Euro-Atlantic stability. One essential benefit Europe has over Russia is that it might observe and block funds that are invested in Europe however have their origins in corruption in Russia. European international locations also needs to make it simpler to entry their actual property registers, which might assist Russian NGOs and journalists determine properties owned by the Russian elite in Europe.
Member states mustn't assist Russian corporations in opposition to the pursuits of widespread EU-Russia coverage.
EU member states are sending combined alerts to the Russian management: on the one hand, they've a sanctions coverage, on the opposite, they're participating in strategically essential power initiatives, such because the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Mutual sanctions coverage
The panel famous that the results of sectorial sanctions are felt by the entire of society, because the authorities make society pay for the results of the sanctions. They've little impact on the ruling elite.
Private sanctions, which the elite fears essentially the most, are flawed and require adjustment.
Some folks on the European sanctions checklist are there for no obvious cause. Some, like Main Pavel Karpov, concerned in the Sergey Magnitsky case, seem on the US however not the EU checklist. Some of the members from Europe careworn that the sanctions, though imperfect, had been the one instrument accessible to the EU after the annexation of Crimea. It was additionally instructed that Europe might consider know-how sanctions, which might make the event of army gear tougher.
Disclaimer: The suggestions of this report don't signify any place on the half of the organizers or companions of the occasion. They're a abstract of views expressed by completely different members through the occasion.