18.02 - 18.02.2014, Representation of the Free State of Bavaria
EU-Russia relations are actually healthier than their reputation despite the cancelled dinner at the last summit. The interdependence goes far beyond economics, finances, energy and security. However, close relationships also generate tensions. Central and
Eastern Europe’s societies are traumatized by Soviet domination and still, Moscow intensifies relations with countries in the post-Soviet spaces offering loans as
well as gas and oil deliveries in exchange for ‘proper’ behaviour. On the contrary, Moscow complains vis-à-vis Brussels that visa liberalization is not happening fast
enough, and Russia's gas monopolist Gazprom feels discriminated against in the European internal market. As for the EU-Russia affairs in general, economic
relations are flourishing whereas the political dialogue is stumbling. Despite Olympics in Sochi and Putin’s pardoning of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Pussy Riot,
doubts about sustainable liberal reforms in Russia remain.
Russia is Europe, historically, politically, and culturally. Russia is very much interested in an effective and stable EU. The cooperation in four common spaces as well as
the strategic partnership for modernization is supposed to result in a free trade area from Lisbon to Vladivostok. However, reality lags behind this objective. The economic and financial crisis is currently still dominating Europe. The EU’s attractiveness cannot be taken for granted; new regions are gaining economic and geopolitical importance. The EU must consider these developments when conducting its Foreign and Neighbourhood policy.