Summit Underscores EU Tensions with Russia

...The entire European House that Gorbachev once dreamt of stands empty today...In St. Petersburg, Vladmir Putin’s hometown, Durao Barroso gushed over the magnificent Constantine Palace, where Russian president, who had just been voted back into the Kremlin, received European Commission president at a summit meeting. Back in June when it happened, Russian newspapers described it as a reception worthy of a czar. Truth, however, is that there is little love lost between Putin and Durao Barroso. Putin considers the Portuguese politician to be a lightweight, it is not uncommon for Kremlin boss to take days before returning calls from European leader, despite Barroso’s efforts at 2 summits to endear himself by citing Russian national poet Alexander Pushkin. Difficult relationship between the 2 leaders is symptomatic of something even greater. In the run-up to Russia-EU summit this Friday in Brussels, disputes are simmering over Russia’s desire for a visa-waiver for its citizens traveling to Europe, Putin’s push to expand Moscow energy giant Gazprom deeper into EU and new tariff imposed by Russians on imported cars. EU officials believe Russia is violating the rules of the World Trade Organization, a body that Moscow only recently joined. In economic terms, Russia, the world’s largest country by landmass, and the EU, the strongest economic bloc, are becoming ever more intertwined. Politically, however, they are drifting further apart. As reliant as each partner may be on the other, they do not appear to have joint plans together for future. “What happens with Russia is no less than a question of war and peace on our continent,” says Frank Schauff, head of Association of European Businesses in Brussels. Meanwhile, Zbigniew Brezinski, a former US National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter, fears Russia is fatalistically falling back into its old, anti-Western tradition. The massive country to the east is facing pressure on three sides: a growing China to the east, Muslim states in the south and a West that has often rejected Russia in recent years. For its part, given the dual debt crisis in Europe and the United States, Moscow no longer views the West as a model. Opinion within Kremlin is that democracy is a form of government designed for wealthy states, but even there it leads to constant economic crises because of frequent and expensive election promises. Former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, who is in no way an anti-European, says he is concerned many in his country now view “Europe as an industrial museum is losing the war of innovation”. Izvestia, a newspaper considered sympathetic to the Kremlin, swears this is “Europe’s twilight.” Putin himself has asked his diplomats to draft the outline for a shift towards Asia. He’s had enough of being lectured about the human rights like some kind of school pupil by Western leaders. In the West, meanwhile, the number of authoritarian laws that Putin has forced through the Duma, Russia’s parliament, has strengthened the position of anti-Russia hawks (…..)



Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional


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