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Financial Times

Europe in the 21st Century

Topic: Russia and Europe: Chances and Prospects for European and International Cooperation

Report by Grigory Yavlinsky

Berlin, November 24-25, 2000

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I doubt that I will manage to cover all the aspects in three minutes. Therefore I would like to request an additional three minutes and twenty seconds for my report about my country, which is so big. I will speak in English, as I would like to reach my European partners here. I want to reach them even more than Russias own Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Five years ago I talked to one of the most well-known European leaders at a private meeting in Moscow. He asked me what I perceived to be the main goal of my political party in Russia. I replied that my main political goal was to bring Russia into Europe. He answered in a whisper: Never say this in Europe, as the people in Brussels would simply die from horror if you said such a thing. This was when I realised that something was wrong with the current system of European integration. It makes me feel that something in the system is still based on Cold War concepts, on the previous era. Maybe we should speak slightly differently about European integration. In this case it is not a question of Russia and Europe or Russia in Europe, maybe it is better to say: Europe and Russia. I would like to discuss some ideas from this starting point.

Yesterday we heard a lot of speeches at this conference from representatives of different countries of Central and Eastern Europe, who were talking about admission to the European Union and inclusion in the European Club. I think that it would be fair to say that all of them were saying that if you opened the doors and they were inside, they would have an opportunity to improve their democracy, market and security.

But there is also another question: what can those countries, and first of ail Russia, contribute to the European Union? I would like to make another proposal: to ask all EU applicants to explain what they have to offer you. As you heard, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia was not talking about immediate accession to Russia to Europe. He was talking much more about Russian politics. So the question what can we do for Europe and here I would like to refer to the most important issues I doubt that Europe would only expect us to import your new cars, for example Volkswagens or BMWs or new Japanese computers. I am not sure that Europe is expecting such things from my county. We certainly need to do that, and we are going to do that, but maybe this is not the most important issue for Europe at this moment. What is important? Here I would like to say a few words about economics, security and politics.

Economically I believe that, if Europe wants to compete with the U.S.A. and Asia in the 21st century, it can only achieve this goal by integrating the Russian economy and natural resources in Europes economic system. Only then will Europe really be able to compete with these two economic giants in the 21st century.

Secondly, we talk all the time about accessing the European market, a market which is today the European Economic Union. But I see another picture. When we meet our partners and colleagues from Bulgaria, from Macedonia, from other European countries, which are not yet members of the European Economic Union (the Common Market), we talk to them about establishing our own form of common market. Maybe this is the correct concept: to create another market, a separate sector from the market in Europe between those countries which are not yet members of the existing Common Market. In this case it would be extremely important to establish relations between these two sectors.

I would like to recall here the so-called Marshal Plan. The main goal of the Marshal Plan was to promote trade and create a market between countries after World War II. So maybe it is right to speak now about creating a special market here. I am not concerned with the actual words at the moment, I would simply to express this idea. This is extremely important. With the help of the European Union and the existing Common Market, we can create this new market as well.

Now I would like to say a few words about the security. I think that the key issue for European security involves the creation of a European-Russian,

Russian-European or however you wish to describe it - anti-ballistic non-strategic missile system. I had the privilege of discussing this idea in practical detail with Mrs. Albright, Mr. Gore, Mr. Yeltsin and with Mr. Putin. I think, sooner or later, for geographical reasons, for geostrategical reasons and for practical reasons we shall need this more and more. This will imply not simply speculation, but actual integration of Russia into the security system. After the meetings over the past ten years, this will represent profound and serious integration. Sooner or later Europe will require an anti-ballistic missile system, and a non-strategic as the United States will need it.

And last but not least - there is politics. To help Russia respond to European demands for human rights, more democracy and a more open society, we want Europe to be more clear and less contradictory on the most sensitive issues. As you know, Europes position on Chechnya, for example, is extremely contradictory. There is a lot of contradiction also in the position of Europe on the media. And we are very sensitive to these issues. This is very important to us. We perceive a contradiction in European politics between human rights policies and so-called realpolitik. This contradiction, which may be common for Europe, is strongly reflected in Russia today.

Information is crucial for us, and we are seeking information that is more open. For example we receive foreign news in all languages except Russian. This is extremely important, if we want Russia to be closer to European political culture. More information inside Russia in Russian should come from Europe, which provides a picture of Europes political culture.

I would like to mention one last issue if you look at the embassies in Moscow, you will see very long queues of people, who are waiting for visas to enter Europe. Since the beginning of the nineties the obstacles for ordinary people in Russia to obtain a visa have become more and more difficult. So, we have to speak now about useful exchanges between ordinary people: sportsmen; students, scholars, trade unionists and so on, and not only one leader visiting another leader, not only meetings for special personal relations. We are far more interested in communication between the people. And I want to assure you that gangsters do not queue up for visas: I do not know how gangsters obtain their visas. All I can say is that they are not queuing in a line. So this is not a case of security.

I understand that this may not be the best political environment for the ideas I have expressed. However, this is attributable to the fact that Europe has no clear cut Eastern policy. Europe knows - and it is especially important to state that here in Berlin - that when the idea of the reunification of Germany was raised the absolute majority of the people thought that this was a dream. And Mr. Teltschik can tell you how this dream came true, because there was a concept, an idea, there were concrete steps. There might have been pessimistic thinking, but there was an optimistic will. That is what we need.

Thank you.

Moderator (Quentin Peel, Associated Editor and Foreign Affairs Commentator, Financial Times, London): Thank you very much Grigory, from the very ambitious strategic concept of a European missile defence system to what I very much sympathise with, I believe that we have got to get our visa system opened up. It is completely lunatic that we have those thousands of people waiting for visas in line in Moscow, when, if I remember from my time in Moscow, the single most glorious liberty that was on offer was the freedom to travel, and we are denying it to people. And you are absolutely right that we are not stopping any of the crooks getting through. We are only stopping a large number of ordinary people. It is something we should be ashamed of.

Financial Times, November 24-25, 2000