Before the EU summit in Ireland with the agenda of considering the issue of expanding the EU to the East, opinion polls in Russia revealed decrease of interest in establishing closer ties with the West.
According to the Russian Center for Public Opinion Studies, the percentage of “Euro-skeptics” increased from 16 to 20 percent. These are people who believe that Europe does not intend to treat Russia as its equal partner.
Also, there has been a decrease in the number those willing to establish cooperation with the EU, but opposing the idea of full integration of Russia in the EU institutions.
In the period of 2001-2004, the number of those willing to vote for Russia’s joining the EU, fell by 10 percent and reached 45 percent of Russian citizens. The number of Russian people who would vote against joining the EU increased by 9 percent and reached 30 percent of Russians. 25 percent of the respondents have not formed their position on joining the EU.
The respondents called economic benefits, concerns to stay out of the “European mainstream” and the need to achieve European living standards, democracy and human rights as the arguments for joining the EU.
Only 12 percent of the respondents named cultural and mental closeness between Russia and Europe as the reason for uniting. This is the main distinction between Russians and East Europeans who called “returning to the family of European peoples” the main reason for their countries to join the EU.