"Quite a considerable layer of contradictions and collisions has appeared" in the European Union, "both at the level of internal and foreign relations," Vasily Likhachev, permanent representative of Russia to the European Union, said in an interview with RIA Novosti.
According to him, it is natural that "everything, or nearly everything, that is going on inside the European Union or around it - the creation of the economic and currency union, the formation of a common foreign policy and the policy in the sphere of security and defence, the EU enlargement, etc, cannot but affect the efficiency of its co-operation with the partners, including Russia." The contradictions which existed earlier or those which have appeared of late, the Russian envoy believes, reflect the developments in the world in general and in the European Union, as a part of it, and affect the image and the efficiency of the latter and its influence in the current world system.
Vasily Likhachev believes that certain details in the European Union's relations with the United States, Russia, China and India influence, without any doubts, the dynamism of its development. These details include, in particular, dozens of anti-dumping procedures, trade controversies and peculiarities in the correlation of the euro and dollar exchange rates.
"All this has to be mentioned not because I believe that the European Union is a problematic entity," noted Vasily Likhachev. "Perhaps, there are no structures in the present-day international system - from the United Nations to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) - where such tendencies and features would be absent. The point lies in another thing. The European Union is really a strategic partner, at least for Russia. It is the bearer, ideologist and operator of many new approaches and dimensions in today's multilateral diplomacy." In view of this, the envoy believes, such notions as "international personality" or "international figure" can be perfectly used with regard to it. For this reason, "Russia cannot but pay attention to the progress of the European Union and to the arising problems and, proceeding from juridical rules and the norms of partnership's morals, render it all sorts of assistance and bear a kind of responsibility for its evolution, no matter how paradoxically it may sound." In the opinion of the Russian permanent representative, this can be carried out, for instance, within the framework of meeting commitments with regard to the international law, above all, the basic principles of the international law and the UN Charter. At the same time, "there is also a reverse process, when the European Union itself becomes responsible for what is going on, with its participation, in the relations with other subjects - the states, international organisations." In the epoch of globalisation and internationalisation of relations between states, such approach based on mutuality, is justified, logical and should be accepted politically correctly by the European Union itself and its partners.
"The correctness of such methods and their prospects," Likhachev believes "can be seen from different facts and processes whose participants are the European Union and its vis-a-vis in the international community." The Russian envoy pointed out that "the deepest and the most characteristic example today is the position of Brussels and the member-countries of the European Union on Iraq." What is going on today in the European Union in this connection? A split between factions and political groups in the European parliament. "Facts are very serious, the atmosphere in the European Union and around it is not simple at all," said Likhachev. The leadership of the European Union understands this very well and regrets it deeply.
Public commentaries and speeches of the EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, European Commissioner for foreign contacts Christopher Pattern and of other officials in the European Union are also filled with this mood.
Many efforts to find a compromise are being made by the Greek presidency of the European Union, pointed out the Russian envoy. For instance, the final document adopted at the EU Brussels summit on March 20-21, 2003 recognised the task of achieving unity in the international community as an absolute imperative of foreign policy.
Delicately bypassing the question of international-legal appraisal of the actions of the United States and its allies in Iraq, the European Union member-states have started to talk about the problems of the post-war reconstruction of Iraq. The European Union places the activity of the United Nations in the centre of solution of many Iraqi problems and underscores the necessity of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. And this is very important, Likhachev believes. This is important also in view of determining the countries co-operation with which will enable the EU to reveal its peacekeeping potential and to come out of the crisis situation which affects many aspects - from the efficiency of the EU Convent's work over the European Constitution to the implementation of the European defence and security policy in the EU operations in Macedonia and Bosnia.
"Judging by the pronouncements of some EU member-states' leaders and the leaders of the European Union as a whole, such subjects include Russia - a nuclear power, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, a member of G-8 and other international institutions," pointed out Vasily Likhachev. "This approach, which is absolutely legitimate, important and politically rational, reflects a very serious attitude of the European Union to co-operation with Russia in the political sphere and recognises its inevitable role and authority in the accomplishment of peacekeeping tasks." In the light of these reasons, the Russian permanent representative believes that it is time now to raise questions in another aspect - not only to state the role of Russia or the European Union in the international sphere, but to talk about their concerted activity.