Five years ago one of the leading European politicians asked
me about the global goal of the Yabloko party. I replied that
our goal is to make Russia a European country in 20-25 years.
On hearing my reply, he said, lowering his voice: "Never
say this to anyone again - the bureaucrats in Brussels would die
from horror, if they heard that Russia plans to become part of
the EU." This was when I realised that something was wrong
with the integration of Europe.
My conviction that the way to the European Union only lay through
during the "Cold War", when only those who could help
resist the Warsaw
Treaty and the Soviet Union were admitted into the EC. The Cold
but the old concept survived. However, some countries are still
asking to be admitted into Europe, while others are looking down
trying to explain to them why this cannot happen today.
The arguments of applicants to the European Union can be summed
explanation that in this case the aforementioned countries will
democracy, a market economy and many other positive things, including
security. I suppose that this should be approached from the other
can the applicants offer Europe?
Let us consider this problem from three angles.
The first aspect is the economy. It is absolutely obvious that
century there will be two economic centres in the world - the
If Europe decides to compete with them and become the third centre,
only achieve this goal if it accepts the following requirement:
integration of Russia's potential in the European economic mechanism.
The Russian economy is based today only on the extraction of
ferrous and non-ferrous metals. We live like a drug addict. However,
of a needle we have a gas tube in one vein and an oil tube in
economics of the tube lead nowhere. The economic hallucinations
We will face a problem: where can we turn to obtain more drugs?
go cold turkey. And it won’t be easy.
To develop Russia's economic potential to enable it to become
part of the integration process in Europe over the next 20-25
years, we need to create another common market for Eastern Europe
that will exist in parallel to the European common market. This
second market should grow and develop together with the first
one. Sooner or later they will begin to interact. The aim of the
Marshall plan can be summed up as follows: immediately after World
War II the United States granted credits to Britain, France and
Germany to enable them to purchase goods from each other. Consequently,
today we need Marshall Plan No 2, which would stimulate trade
between Romania and Bulgaria, between Romania, Bulgaria and Russia,
between Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Russia and Macedonia, between
Macedonia, Slovenia, Yugoslavia and other countries. The European
Union should be concerned about this issue. To condescend to the
entreaties of the Eastern European countries to be admitted into
the European Community is outdated merely in terms of the logic.
A new concept is required: the accumulation of potential, acceleration
and interaction of communicating vessels, which sooner or later
will result in the cohesion of European markets.
Security is another important issue. In 1972 two international
anti-missile defence treaties were signed, which had the following
objectives: Neither country had the right to build up defence
systems. For many years this acted as a deterrent. Today the situation
has changed. There are states that cannot be trusted here, there
are terrorists who can launch missiles wherever they wish. Therefore,
not only the USA, but also Europe has the right to discuss the
issue of anti-missile defence systems. But Europe alone, without
Russia, cannot create an anti-missile defence system. Russia's
"hole" in Europe's "nuclear umbrella" will
reduce to zero all efforts here. Like it or not, one has to think
about the Russian-European anti-missile defence system, using
Russian technologies and potential.
Let me highlight only three large political issues in the interaction
of Russia and Europe. First, the need for clarity in EU policies
in Eastern Europe. Today these policies are based on two corner-stones
that are unfortunately, mutually exclusive in many aspects. One
of them concerns human rights policies. And the second – the so-called
"realpolitik". They constantly clash. For example, PACE
adopts a decision regarding Russia's actions in Chechnya, and
then on the next day the Council of Ministers assembles to announce:
pay no attention. The problem is, admittedly, complicated. There
are terrorists in Chechnya that represent a colossal danger. But
at the same time war implies a terrible crime against civilians
that live and die there. The real contradictions of the situation
should not give rise to contradictions in European political thinking.
Secondly, Europe still does not have a single serious information
channel in Russia. "Euronews" are broadcast in all languages,
even those of non-European countries. But there is simply no programme
in Russian that over 300 million people could watch or listen
to. The European Union does not supply on a regular basis political
information in Russian and is not concerned about spreading its
political culture in Russian. This is the second promising direction
Thirdly, the European Union should decisively change its model
of communication with Eastern Europe. The attitude of the Western
political elite towards our countries is based on their conviction
that Russians are not ready for democracy, a market economy or
any other values of today's civilisation. The Western political
elite has drawn the following conclusion: we need a "friend"
in the Kremlin. And it would be preferable if he had an iron first
and ruled as harshly as possible. They can make friends with him,
give him money in small installments, engage in politics with
him, sing his praises, and he in exchange will not send missiles
to Europe, and will hold his subjects in his iron grip and Europeans
may not be afraid of them anymore. Whatever happens to these "subjects"
lies outside the sphere of influence of European politicians.
The ten past years have demonstrated the following: communications
at summit level and attempts to influence politics on the basis
of personal are doomed to failure.
Today people wishing to obtain a visa to Europe have to stand
in long queues in front of the embassies of European countries
in Moscow. European countries invent countless obstacles for visitors
from Russia to prevent as many as possible from visiting these
countries. Consequently, these people cannot see with their own
eyes developments in Europe. That is why it is difficult for our
people to say what steps should be taken to transform Russia into
a European country. The European Union should not toughen the
visa regime: it should on the contrary facilitate the visa process,
to enable any Russian citizen with a foreign passport to spend
at least two weeks in Europe at least once a year. If we are not
treated as equals, there will be no prospects for the development
of our relations.
The most unbelievable ideas begin working when they are transformed
The pessimism of thought and optimism of will is the principle
be applied in all directions.
Russia's problems present a separate topic. Today it is easier
about these problems: they are clearer and easier to understand.
return to this discussion on the pages of "Obschaya Gazeta"
in the near