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Report of the European Parliament on the Communication from the Commission - Towards
 a European Union strategy for relations with the
 Independent States of Central Asia, 19 February 2000                                ,


Europe in Russia's foreign policy concept


Europe in Russia's foreign policy concept

 200.Russia's new foreign policy concept as approved by President Putin on 28 June 2000 emphasises relations with European states as its traditional foreign policy priority, with the main aim of creating a stable and democratic system of European security and cooperation. In that framework, Russia is interested in the further balanced development of the multifunctional character of the OSCE.

201.Russia considers relations with the EU to be of key importance. It sees the EU as "one of its main political and economic partners and will strive to develop with it an intensive, stable and long-term cooperation devoid of expediency fluctuations".

202.The foreign policy concept further mentions that:

"The character of relations with the EU is determined by the framework of the 24 June 1994 Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, establishing partnership between the Russian Federation, on the one hand, and the European Communities and their member states on the other, which is yet to achieve its full effectiveness. Concrete problems, primarily the problem of an adequate respect for the interests of the Russian side in the process of the EU expansion and reform, will be dealt with on the basis of the Strategy for the Development of Relations between the Russian Federation and the European Union, approved in 1999. The EU's emerging military-political dimension should become an object of particular attention".

203.Russia also attaches importance to bilateral relations, judging by the following statement:

"Interaction with states of Western Europe, primarily with such influential ones as Britain, Germany, Italy and France, represents an important resource for Russia's defence of its national interests in European and world affairs, and for the stabilisation and growth of the Russian economy".

204.As regards central and eastern Europe in general, the concept document states:

"A topical task in relations with the states of central and eastern Europe is, as before, the preservation of the existing human, economic, and cultural ties, the overcoming of the crisis phenomena, and providing an additional impetus to cooperation in accordance with the new conditions and the Russian interests".

205.It further singles out the three Baltic states, stating that:

"There are good prospects for the development of the Russian Federation's relations with Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Russia stands for putting these relations onto the track of good neighbourliness and mutual cooperation. An indispensable condition here is respect by those states of the Russian interests, including in the key question of respect for the rights of the Russian-speaking population".

206.As regards the situation in south-east Europe, the foreign policy concept once again emphasises Russia's point of view:

"Russia will give an all-out assistance to the attainment of a just settlement of the situation in the Balkans, one based on the coordinated decisions of the world community. It is of fundamental importance to preserve the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and to oppose the partition of this State, something that is fraught with the threat of emergence of a pan-Balkan conflict with unpredictable consequences".

207.It is noted here that notwithstanding the key importance of relations with European states and the EU, Russia is well aware of the vital importance of its relations with the United States in a number of areas, as mentioned in the following paragraphs:

"The Russian Federation is prepared to overcome considerable latter-day difficulties in relations with the United States, and to preserve the infrastructure of Russian-American cooperation, which has been created over almost ten years. Despite the presence of serious and, in a number of cases, fundamental differences, Russian-American interaction is the necessary condition for the amelioration of the international situation and achievement of global strategic stability.

Above all, this concerns problems of disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as well as prevention and settlement of the more dangerous regional conflicts. It is only through an active dialogue with the United States that the issues of limitation and reduction of strategic nuclear weapons may be resolved. It is in our mutual interests to maintain regular bilateral contacts at all levels, not allowing pauses in relations and setbacks in the negotiating processes on the main political, military and economic matters".

 XIX. Developments in Russia's relations with the European Union

 208.Russia rightly considers relations with the EU to be of key importance and those with European states as its traditional foreign policy priority. Culturally, politically and economically speaking, it is a European state and the roots of its society are strongly anchored in Europe. Russia's western borders are no doubt the most stable and it is aware that there is no threat of political or military confrontation coming from western Europe, notwithstanding NATO's present or future enlargement. Similarly, western European states, whose political expression is increasingly taking place in the EU, have no choice other than to intensify cooperation with Russia if they wish to establish and maintain peace, stability and security on the European continent as a whole. Such cooperation is, then, a historical necessity which will only be reinforced by the process of EU enlargement. The EU is aware that it has to allow Russia to play an active role in the discussions on shaping Europe's stability and security. 

209.In recent years, the EU has adopted a Common Strategy of the European Union on Russia, while the Russian Federation has worked out its Medium-Term Strategy for developing relations with the European Union. Together, they have concluded the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), which is the basic tool for the further development of their relations, with bi-annual summits to keep the process going.

210.The last EU-Russia Summit, held in Paris on 30 October 2000, initiated reinforced cooperation on the two important issues of energy and security policy.

(a) The EU-Russian energy partnership

211.At the EU-Russia Summit in Paris on 30 October 2000, the first cautious steps were taken towards defining an EU-Russian energy partnership which the joint declaration formulated as follows:

"The European Union and Russia have decided to institute, on a regular basis, an energy dialogue which will enable progress to be made in the definition of an EU-Russia energy partnership and arrangements for it. This will provide an opportunity to raise all the questions of common interest relating to the sector, including the introduction of cooperation on energy saving, rationalisation of production and transport infrastructures, European investment possibilities, and relations between producer and consumer countries. The planned ratification of the Energy Charter Treaty by Russia and the improvement of the investment climate will be important aspects in this context".

212.A high-level working group under EU-Russian chairmanship will now start to examine the possibilities for increasing EU imports of gas, oil and electricity from Russia in the period up to 2020, while investing in Russian infrastructure. The President of the European Commission, Mr Prodi, noted that the EU wished to diversify its energy imports in order to avoid depending too heavily on one major source. The infrastructure studies would include optimising existing supply lines as well as studying new pipelines from Siberia to western Europe. Mr Prodi made it clear, however, that a clear legal framework in Russia was needed before the EU's energy imports could increase significantly. It has already been suggested that proposed changes to Russia's legal framework for long-term investment in the energy sector will introduce potential conflicts of interest and may do little to simplify the process108.

213.Nevertheless, Gazprom has already signed a letter of intent with Ruhrgaz and Winterschall (Germany), Gaz de France and Snam (Italy) for the construction of a gas pipeline bypassing Ukraine via Poland and Slovakia. Neither Poland nor Ukraine are happy with the proposed pipeline, complaining that this project ignores their long-term political and economic interests. Ukraine is considering offering Gazprom and western European gas importers a share in the running of its transit gas pipeline109.

214.Analysts have argued that Russia is currently at its maximum export capacity. In order to develop and exploit new oil and gas fields, huge investments will be needed. UES, the Russian electricity monopoly which has started to export electricity to Germany and wishes to increase its exports to the EU, is said to need a total investment of US$ 70 billion to maintain its present production capacity. Moreover, both Gazprom and UES are notorious for their lack of transparency and corporate governance.

215.Furthermore, it is claimed that Russia will use the EU's interest in developing a strategic energy partnership as an instrument to restore its own influence in many of the now independent former Soviet republics. If export pipelines do indeed bypass Ukraine, as now envisaged, Ukraine will be deprived of important transit revenues. Russia has also asked the EU to refrain from participating in the Baku (Azerbaijan)-Ceyhan (Turkey) pipeline, which might force non-Russian countries around the Caspian Sea to export their oil and gas through Russian territory110.

216.Finally, the question is whether the envisaged EU-Russia energy partnership will lead to a perilous EU dependence on Russia. A political analyst recently suggested that Germany, which is more dependent on energy imports than any other EU country, has consistently shown agreement with Russia on many political issues since it decided in June 2000 to develop its energy partnership with Russia.

217.Your Rapporteur takes the view that a partnership in areas as strategic as that of energy cannot flourish if the benefits are not equally shared. Oil and gas are vital for Europe's highly developed economy and society. It would be unwise to become too dependent on one source for an essential raw material. Investments in diversification of energy sources is therefore fully justified, even if it results in partial dependence. But in this partnership Russia is also dependent on Europe. It needs Europe as a natural ally in its difficult task of rebuilding and transforming its economy and society. Without foreign know-how and investment and a permanent dialogue with its western European neighbours, Russia can never become a valuable and well-respected partner in the global economy. If it came to the worst, Russia could try to manipulate the EU by turning off the energy tap, but as long as it is not the only energy provider, to do so would be more to its own detriment than that of anyone else.

(b) Dialogue and cooperation in political and security issues

218.A logical consequence of the Cologne and Helsinki decisions is that the Common European Security and Defence Policy has now become an item on the agenda of the EU-Russia Summits in the framework of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.

219.At the EU-Russia Summit in Moscow on 29 May 2000, having stated its intention of developing the Common European Security and Defence Policy as an integral part of the CFSP, the EU made it clear that it wished "to promote an even closer convergence of interests with Russia and a higher level of stability and security in Europe as a whole. The EU reaffirmed that Russia may be invited to participate in future crisis-management operations". President Putin then expressed "a positive interest in the EU's evolving European Security and Defence Policy. He noted that there are possibilities for cooperation in accordance with the UN Charter principles and in recognition of the main responsibilities of the UN Security Council, in particular on the issues of strengthening international peace, security and stability, notably early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict reconstruction".

220.On the occasion of the sixth EU-Russia Summit held in the PCA framework in Paris on 30 October 2000, specific initiatives were undertaken with a view to strengthening EU-Russian cooperation on political and security issues in Europe. In their specific joint declaration, the two partners stated:

"In order to give substance to the strategic partnership between the European Union and the Russian Federation, and in view of our common interest in security and stability on the European continent, we decided to:

institute specific consultations on security and defence matters at the appropriate level and in the appropriate format;

develop strategic dialogue on matters, particularly in regard to security, which have implications for the Russian Federation and the European Union;

extend the scope of regular consultations at expert level on the issues of disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation;

promote cooperation in operational crisis management.

On the basis of the initial proposals which will be presented at the Nice European Council to enable potential partners in the operations to contribute, we will examine mechanisms for contribution by the Russian Federation to the European Union's crisis management operations. In the context of preparations for the next European Union-Russia Summit, we will draw up proposals designed to give substance to our cooperation. We will also examine possibilities for a contribution by the Russian Federation to the implementation of civilian crisis-management instruments".

221.Finally, the partners declared that: 

"The implementation of these decisions will be a priority between now and the next Summit".