Agreement to launch negotiations for a Strategic Partnership and Cooperation Pact between the Russian Federation and the European Union is the result of the Summit of Khanty-Mansiisk from 26th to 27th June. Working groups and plenary sessions on the second Partnership and Cooperation Agreement begin on 4th July in Brussels.
In Khanty-Mansiisk, Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev, Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov and Economic Development MinisterElvira Nabiulina met the delegation from the E.U. composed by European Commission President José Barroso, Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana and the Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, whose country hosts the E.U.’s rotating Presidency.
Khanty-Mansiisk, “The pulse of cooperation” as proclaimed by the billboards and the heart of Russia’s energy powerhouse, Siberia. In a businesslike and friendly climate, the main strategic objectives were identified. On top of the list, energy. Other key items on the agenda were trade, conflict zones and visas.
The Western media came to Khanty-Mansiisk looking for “changes” in policy between Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev. There are no changes.
The thorns in the side of Russia continue to be the same and continue to be crystal clear to understand, namely the expansion of NATO eastwards after promising it would not, the dangerous US plan to erect a missile defence shield on Russia’s frontiers, the illegal position aopted by (as yet) a handful of states regarding Kosovo and the alarming trend to use the EU block to defend crypto-fascist national interests of certain states, historically with a bone to pick with Russia.
Areas of cooperation
The negotiations for the new PCA (Partnership and Cooperation Agreement) will be centred around four areas of cooperation, created in 2003: the Common Economic Space, the Common Space for Freedom, Security and Justice, the Common Space for External Security and the Common Space for Investigation, Education and Culture.
Whatever the differences between the two blocks, great progress has been made over the last five years in ongoing bilateral negotiations and agreements covering the following issues:
Approximation of legal framework governing trade (the EU is Russia’s largest trading partner and investor);
Prevention of terrorism;
Human and fundamental rights (including the rights of Russian citizens in EU member states, principally the Baltic States);
Research and Development; Investigation;
Exchange of students;
Equivalence of academic degrees
As we can see, there are far more areas of agreement than disagreement. However, there are three thorny issues which continue to exist, and need to be addressed with mutual respect.
“Russia and the EU share a common approach in questions of security. We base our approach on respect for international law, the solution of conflicts by political means, without resorting to force” (Dmitry Medvedev). Enough said.
Missile Defense Shield
“The doorway to negotiations remains open” (Dmitry Medvedev).
This unnecessary and infantile intrusion into areas bordering the Russian Federation is a question of symbolic power and symbolic control. Besides the fact that Russia’s missiles could destroy such a target, and create a crater with a hundred-kilometer diamater around it, within a fraction of a second, the question is raised as to why the USA in particular, and NATO in general, insists on such an act of provocation, such an act of insolence and such a ridiculous, inconsequential act of muscle-flexing at a time when the world should be coming together, something that the Russian Federation has defended in the midst of the NATO member states’ barbaric and illegal (and futile) quixotean schemes towards hegemony. Given that most EU states are synonymous with NATO... (enough said)
European Union Protectionism
There is “an alarming trend for the use of European solidarity to promote the individual interests of some (member) states” (Dmitry Medvedev). In 2006, Poland vetoed the start of negotiations for a second PCA because of a meat dispute with Russia and at the beginning of 2008, Lithuania blocked talks because of a difference of opinion over Russia’s bilateral ties with Georgia and Moldova, among other judicial questions. If one were to investigate Lithuania’s record during the Second World War...enough said.
The insolence of western press sources continues – references to Vladimir Putin’s “caustic humour” and attempts to brand Dmitry Medvedev as a “soft” version of the Russian Prime Minister. However such insolence should not be taken as malicious, but rather ignorance.
Born and bred on generations of bile and hatred towards a perceived foe (the USSR, which by the way lost 26 million of its souls saving Western Europe from Fascism, maybe much to the regret of certain EU member states) it is hardly surprising that editors insist on a continuation of the Cold War, which sells copies. One does not see such nonsense in the free Russian Press, far more free than the western media outlets.
The point remains that Russia is sure of itself, knows who it is and where it is going, has amazingly rich resources, has a democratically elected government and a people who not only support, but also love, in a special Russian way, President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin.
The point remains that while the European Union tries to find a collective identity, its American masters play a masterful game of string-pulling, orchestrated now by the capo, José Barroso, orchestrated tomorrow by Tony Blair.
The point remains that the European Union is perhaps the most anti- and undemocratic institution the world has ever known, whose only elected body (the Parliament) has no executive power whatsoever, and whose executive bodies are unelected. Whenever elections or referendums are held, the result is historically against the “Union” and such daring manifestations are received with reactions of “hold another referendum, or other referenda, until we win the day” or else ignore the result and press on.
The point remains that a number of EU member states supported or were involved in the illegal act of butchery in Iraq and in the illegal, murderous act of intrusion into the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Certain current leaders of the European Union were involved in these acts of murder. Why are they in power, and not in prison?
The European Union, in fact, would do well to take a page out of Russia’s book: follow and adhere to the letter of international law, rather than just evoking it, follow the will of its people and not ride roughshod over them and not interfere into the internal and sovereign affairs of other nations. All the Russian Federation ever wanted was to be a trading partner. And that is precisely what the citizens of the EU want as well.
Is that so bad?
The difference between the West and the two mighty allies in the East - Russia and China - is enormous. In fact, it is not a difference, but an outright contrast