Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Third Report


187. This Report has demonstrated many areas where British diplomacy in Russia is presented with both opportunity and challenge. The FCO's policies aim to encourage the adoption of Western norms, to enhance mutual security, to promote understanding and cultural exchange, to increase trading opportunities and to better the quality of life of ordinary Russians. These policies entail encouraging Russia to open to the West and encouraging the West to be sensitive to Russian needs and fears. Isolation and suspicion must be put firmly in the past. This agenda is not an easy one, and there will be setbacks, some as severe as those over Kosovo and Chechnya. But the potential benefits of a liberal, democratic, Russia which is a constructive partner in the world mean that setbacks should result in greater effort to promote mutual engagement, not exasperation and recrimination. When the March 2000 presidential elections are over, we expect a redoubling of British efforts to build a co-operative relationship with Russia. In this Report we have made many specific recommendations which we believe will help this process. Our general conclusion and recommendation is that the FCO must continue and develop its critical engagement with Russia in the mutual interest of our two European countries.

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Prepared 28 February 2000