PART 3:THE EU'S PLACE IN RUSSIAN FOREIGN
33. Until relatively recently Russia has been
surprisingly indifferent to the rise of the EU. That attitude
is, however, plainly changing in step with the emergence of the
CFSP and the broader evolution of Russian foreign policy.
34. The change in outlook parallels Russia's
decline, to the point where the United States now regards the
Federation as merely a "potential" great power alongside
China and India.
In these circumstances, and faced with both NATO expansion and
EU enlargement eastwards, anxiety is evident in Russia at the
prospect of a reappearance of the "dividing line" between
Russia and the rest of Europe.
35. Russian concern is reflected in the manifesto,
"Russia's development strategy to the year 2010" published
in President Putin's first year in office. It opened with a dramatic
statement: "By the beginning of the 21st century our country
has been confronted with a real danger of finding itself on the
periphery of the civilised world as a result of its growing lag
in the social, technological and economic fields."
Here and later President Putin emphasised the indissoluble link
between progress at home and Russia's standing abroad after "decades
Later we will consider the state of domestic reform, on which
will depend, at least to some extent, on the EU's relationship
with Russia, below (paras 58-60).
36. Moving from words to action has taken time.
Since 9/11, however, Russia's decade-long and troubled transition
to a functioning democracy within a market economy has been pursued
with greater vigour and determination. Meanwhile, abroad Russia
has realigned itself with the United States and reorientated itself
towards full integration with all international institutions.
37. Until recently, conflicting views in Moscow
kept Russian foreign policy along the familiar tram line "driving
wedges" between the power centres in the West. This the then
Minister for Europe characterised as the "old agenda",
which was "still lurkingnot even lurking sometimesin
the shadows." (Q170)
38. Such an agenda no longer seems realistic.
Explaining why Russia would not bother to play off the EU against
the United States, former ambassador to Moscow Sir Bryan Cartledge,
highlighting the inconsistencies in the EU, told the Committee:
"the European Union is not a sufficiently choate entity at
the moment. It does notregrettably, in my viewhave
an effective common foreign policy, it does not have a tangible
defence identity." (Q48)
39. This is still an issue for debate, even if
the incentive to "drive wedges" has diminished. Bilateral
relations continue to predominate. One European ambassador is
quoted as saying, "Europe has no relations with Putin. It
is the personal, bilateral ties, particularly with Schröder
and Blair that count, because we have no integrated foreign policy,
let alone a policy towards Russia."
While Member States still find unilateral advantage by operating
on the bilateral plane, this trend is likely to persist.
40. The proposed enlargement of the EU
to Russian frontiers and the emergence of the CFSP have significant
implications for the conduct of Russian foreign policy. The 'Foreign
Policy Concept' of the Russian Federation approved by President
Putin on 28 June 2000 noted: "Of key importance are relations
with the European Union (EU). The on-going processes within the
EU are having a growing impact on the dynamics of the situation
in Europe." In particular it stated: "The EU's emerging
military-political dimension should become an object of particular
41. Since 9/11 President Putin has stressed that
"Russia's foreign policy will continue in future to be purely
pragmatic." This pragmatism amounts to weighing up Russian
power against those of its new partners. "Tight competition
is a norm in the international community and in the modern world,
competition for markets, investments, economic and political influence.
Russia must be strong and competitive in this fight." He
is absolutely firm, however, that while using combative language,
("no one is going to war with us in the modern world. No
one wants this, and no one needs this") he adds "But
no one is really waiting for us either. No one will help us especially.
We have to fight for our place under the 'economic sun'."
- Whatever doubts linger about the EU as a political
entity, its role as a major and growing trade partner with Russia
is self-evident. Russia's declared need for direct foreign investment
is unlikely to be satisfied without Western European involvement.
As EU enlargement continues, the EU and Russia are likely to become
ever more interdependent economically. Thus within Russia's larger
goal of maximising integration with the external world, the EU
potentially plays a pivotal role.
- The Common Strategy emphasises that "the
main responsibility for Russia's future lies with Russia itself."
Russia's progress towards further integration with the West, and
with the EU in particular, hinges upon advancing the reform programme.
The Committee therefore devoted significant attention to the strength
of forces making for continued political stability within Russia
and the degree to which institutional obstacles to prosperity
have yet to be overcome.
44. From the beginning of Russia's transition,
the EU has sought to influence the future shape of Russia's economy
and society through a programme of economic assistance. The initial
understanding, that merely economic advice was needed, has latterly
given way to a belief that the institutional framework for economic
reform is equally important. Institution building has thus now
become the focus of assistance. Conversion to Western practices
is to Russia's advantage in seeking full integration with the
global economy and society. The EU is playing its part. The EU
should also mark out and seek to further its own specific interests.
- On both sides of the EU-Russia relationship a
better understanding of the other party would make for greater
progress. Ignorance of the Union and its operations is widespread
within Russia, even at the top of government. The Committee
therefore believes more should be done to draw the EU and Russia
closer together through education and training within member countries
to familiarise the Russian officials and, through them, the population
at large, with the EU. We also believe that EU officials would
in turn benefit from greater familiarisation with Russia.
23 President Bush's National Security Strategy transmitted
to Congress, 20 September 2002. Back
"Russia's development strategy to the year 2010", 10
May 2002. Back
Annual Address by President Putin to the Russian Federal Assembly,
Moscow, 18 April 2002. Back
"Links with Putin leave Europe out in the cold", Financial
Times, 22 May 2002. Back
As discussed by the General Affairs and external Relations Council,
2459th Council Meeting. Back
Annual Address to the Russian Duma 18 April 2002. Back