EU Russia relations
Delivered in Plenary - May 26th 2005
EU-Russia relations are not at their most cordial at present, after a serious loss of face for Russia following Ukraine’s Orange Revolution six months ago. President Putin seriously overestimated his ability to impose his chosen candidate on the Ukrainian people, even if it meant rigging the election. He wrongly expected the same reaction as shown by the EU to the flawed election the previous year in Azerbaijan. Ukraine has now courageously sorted itself out and started out on an independent path – as has Georgia – and Russia, unsurprisingly, is not happy with this.
Neither is Russia particularly pleased with the role played by the independent Baltic republics with their enhanced status in foreign affairs as full EU members. The statement by President Putin that they voluntarily agreed to be annexed by the Soviet Union is laughable.
The EU remains deeply critical of the widespread atrocities in Chechnya, including the extrajudicial execution of Aslan Maskhadov. Russia, however, is fortunately now making some moves towards punishing those responsible for some of the atrocities. There remains strong appreciation of Russia’s internal struggle against fundamentalism and support for the global war against international terrorism.
I support a strong Russia with its recognised international borders, but say ‘hands off Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova’, and I call upon it to help solve the Transnistria question. I am also deeply worried by the rise in Russian anti-Semitism.
Russia remains the EU’s strategic energy supplier and giant immediate neighbour, so we must encourage dialogue and shared values and develop the four ‘common spaces’. Russia must not be allowed to turn the clock back to authoritarianism and abandon its respect for democracy and human rights.