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European liberals Congress discusses relations between Russia and EU

Press Release
October 14, 2010

Today, on October 14, a congress by the European Liberal Democrats party (ELDR) opened in Helsinki. YABLOKO is a full member of ELDR.

A welcoming address to over 500 delegates of the Congress was made by Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck MEP, ELDR President, and Mari Kiviniemi, Prime Minister of Finland. In her speech Mari Kiviniemi dwelled upon relations between Russia and Finland stating that Russia was the key economic partner for Finland. Prime Minister of Finland expressed her opinion that one of the main problems for Russia at present was overcoming Russias dependence on raw. Mari Kiviniemi also expressed her hope that Russian-Finnish cooperation will be broadening in all the spheres: economy, education and culture, humanitarian exchanges and other.

Prime ministers and party leaders lunch took place before the Congress opening. The meeting was attended by Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck MEP and ELDR President, Mari Kiviniemi, Prime Minister of Finland and leader of the Keskusta party, Stefan Wallin, Finlands Minister of Culture and Sport and leader of Svenska Folkpartiet, Irlands Minister for European Affairs Dick Roche, German Minister for European Affairs Werner Hoyer, YABLOKOs leader Sergei Mitrokhin and others. In his speech at the lunch Sergei Mitrokhin told about the situation with the recent elections in Russia and also discussed a number of YABLOKOs foreign policy initiatives. European liberals also asked about the reasons behind sudden dismissal of Mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov by the President of Russia. Mitrokhin expressed his opinion that this was a punishment for Luzhkovs lack of political loyalty to President Medvedev.

Speaking about elections that took place in 77 Russias regions on October 10, Mitrokhin stressed that in spite multiple refusals by electoral commissions to register YABLOKOs candidates and high level of fraud, YABLOKO had several local successful campaigns during these elections: YABLOKO obtained 18-20 per cent of votes in certain districts of the Pskov region and Dagestan, 5 per cent in Sergiyev Posad, Moscow region, and Tomsk, YABLOKOs candidates running in single mandate electoral districts also demonstrated good results. However, YABLOKO had to confront unprecedented level of fraud and black PR in the Chelyabinsk region.

Speaking about YABLOKOs foreign policy initiatives Mitrokhin noted that the European Union should develop a single strategy towards Russia. Such a strategy should be targeted at integration, not on confrontation, involving of the Russian society and elite into the system of European democratic values and civil society development. Abolishing of a visa regime between the RF and the EU could become the first step in this direction. YABLOKOs leader also stressed that in 1995 when YABLOKO for the first time proposed the initiative on a visa-free regime between Russia and the EU all this seemed a fantasy, however, at present Spain, Italy and Finland have been already speaking of abolishing visas with Russia.

According to Mitrokhin, another initiative for a join work of Russia and the EU could be transfer to direct elections to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Today many Europeans, citizens of the countries that do not yet have free and fair elections, are deprived of a direct link to European institutions. Direct elections to the European representative body can be decisive for these countries progress towards modern democracy, restoration of public trust to elections and restricting the power of bureaucracy.

Also YABLOKOs leader noted that joint work on creation of Russia-US-NATO anti-ballistic missile defence system can be decisive for Russias involvement into the European system of values. For Europe and the rest of the world this project could mean greater security from nuclear threats, as well as raising the efficiency of nuclear non-proliferation policy.

In conclusion Mitrokhin called European liberals to a joint work in these projects which will bring more stability and security to all the countries in Europe.

Sergei Mitrokhin's interview about the ELDR Congress to Vesti 24 (in Russian)


See also:

YABLOKO and the European Liberal Family

Russia-EU Relations

Russia's ABM Initiatives

Regional Elections 2010





Press Release
October 14, 2010

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