Russia tries to join EU

Mark Jones jones118 at
Thu Jun 7 09:46:20 MDT 2001

        [AIF NEWS AGENCY, 11:00, JUNE 5, 2001]

     Moderator: Good morning. Argumenty i Fakty welcomes the
chairman of the Foreign and Defense Policy Council Sergei
Alexandrovich Karaganov. The topic of the press conference is the
need for Russia to join the European Union.

     Karaganov: Good morning. It is a somewhat unusual topic
because very few people consider it to be an urgent topic. On the
contrary, society and a large segment of the political class and
the economic class have adopted the logic of the European Union, or
rather its bureaucrats, which says that Russia should never under
any circumstances become a member of the European Union. This
despite the fact that the European Union is moving eastward and
moving eastward the zone of prosperity. It has in some cases
already reached up to our borders and once it admits the three
Baltic countries, it will have an even larger common border with
     The European Union is not just a zone of prosperity. It is a
zone of a certain pattern of economic, cultural, trade and
financial relations. It is a semi-closed economic bloc membership
of which confers on its countries extra cultural and economic
opportunities. By ruling out such opportunities for ourselves --
and to date we have practically ruled it out -- we forget that at
present three major blocks are forming in the world. The first is
the European Union which is obviously one of the most dynamically
expanding blocs which is already acquiring features of a
confederation. Then the North American bloc shortly to become
American bloc because integration processes there have accelerated.
     And what is less well known is that in the past two years
especially the Asian economic bloc has been emerging. It will be
led by such super states as India, Japan, China, Malaysia,
Indonesia and so on. India, China and Japan last year abandoned
their long-term policy of staying out of economic blocs. Of course,
that bloc by definition will be less closely integrated than, say,
NAFTA, the North American bloc, let alone the European economic
community. Nevertheless, all these processes along with
globalization and regionalization are proceeding at a rapid pace.
     And one notes an interesting pattern. We are not members of
any of these economic blocs which comprise financial relations and
financial mutual aid and common standards especially in the EU. And
we will not be members even in 20-30 years if we do not pass any
decisions. As you know, there are several ideas in Russian society
at the moment.
     The first is that we should join "Europe" whatever it means.
Few people can tell exactly what joining Europe means. Then there
is the idea that we should join the West which is even a more
confusing idea. The third point of view is to become a leader,
geopolitically, in Asia. Though not economically because
economically our representation there is negligible. And
potentially we can only be presented in the arms markets in the
     Sooner or later, perhaps sooner rather than later, Russia will
have to make up its mind which way it is going to move. Or else,
will be in limbo which most probably will make Russia an object of
contention  between different groups of states. That is why we have
started thinking about the idea -- and very soon a Russia-Europe
committee will be formed and it will be headed by Vladimir Ryzhkov,
and already organizing groups are being set up which will include
foreigners as well. And the idea is that Russia should steer
towards integration with the  European Union. And in discussions
with the European Union we should impress it on the European Union
that we are ready to move in that direction.
     Such a movement means above all, changing ourselves, changing
our cultural habits, changing industrial and production standards,
changing accounting principles and so on. That would make Russia
more transparent and open to the rest of the world even if we did
not become members of the EU. Thus we would have more leverage on
the external world and benefit more from such integration.
     You know that in recent years we have been drawn more and more
into the world economy, but we have been doing it in spite of
ourselves for the most part. We still have not pursued an active
policy in this direction. So, the Russia-Europe and Russia-European
Union project is closely related with the Russia-globalization
project which consists in a lot of research. We have opened another
Web site (SVOP are Russian initials for Council for Foreign
and Defense policy). It already contains thousands of pages of
discussions on the implications of globalization for Russia. And it
will have a sub-site on Russia-EU. And by this project we want to
push Russian public opinion toward a more reasonable approach to
integration with the external world.
     Another strand in the same activities -- but these are pursued
not by us because we are independent organization, but by the
government which took a risky and courageous decision to try to get
Russia into the WTO within two years. It is a very difficult,
almost an impossible task, but it is a step in the same direction.
     One thing is quite obvious. And the calculations indicate
something else. The calculations tell us that we are literally
doomed to increased lagging behind which, incidentally, is
happening, because we know that even given sufficiently high rates
of growth which we can register in some years, still the lagging
behind over the past ten-odd years, the technological lagging
behind will be taking us to a situation in which Russia's weight in
terms of world economy and, respectively, world politics, will be
     In this connection, we must begin to break this trend. And in
order to break this trend, we are embarking on this kind of an
ideological campaign. When I say "we", I have in mind the group,
these are most frequently people quite respected in society.
Nevertheless, this is just an awareness campaign which will force
Russia to take a new look at its place in Europe.
     That's one thing. And the principal thing, or the second
thing, is to force the Europeans to give a firm answer to this
question: "Why cannot Russia be a member of the European Union?"
The answer is usually very simple, you know that. We are too big.
But if we take a closer look at this, we will see that this logic
is even ridiculous, because we are too big, then Germany is also
too big compared to Luxembourg. And the difference between them is
even more. That's one thing. We must envisage different degrees of
involvement, different degrees of entry into some specialized
statuses and so on.
     For the moment this question has not been considered. Luckily,
over the past two years, or one and a half years, the situation has
begun to somewhat change. This has to do with the fact that in
1999, and we all failed to see it, the European Union decided to
turn to Russia or to turn to Russia half-way. Before that in the
early 1990s the European Union decided to dismiss Russia, to
relegate it to the background and to get down to developing its
closest periphery. But in 1999 at the summit in Cologne the EU
announced a program of rapprochement with Russia, in the first
place, it is true, in the area of foreign policy and security.
     The Putin government, which incidentally was taken little
notice of in our society, in the fall of 1999, when we had a crisis
and we had other things to attend to, put forward also quite a
serious program. Then the situation was frozen. Moreover, it was
practically reversed and the Europeans, because of the direst
crisis that hit us, began to adopt a different approach to revising
their rapprochement policy but after Putin took over, the policy
was resumed and it is quite clear that the president is committed
to the rapprochement with Europe. This does not mean that he is
committed to a rapprochement with Europe at the expense of China.
You know that he is working with China, with India and so on. So,
it is perfectly clear that he is committed in his "cultured way" to
a rapprochement with Europe. He is the first leader of the Soviet
Union or Russia who, I hope, will not only say words about a
rapprochement and integration with Europe and will back  it up by
his political will, this rapprochement, so it seems to us that this
kind of cultural and awareness efforts in this situation have even
greater importance simply because in the leadership of the country
there are substantial forces which wish to delay this rapprochement
the more so that even if we dream strongly about something else,
still, regrettably, there is no alternative to this.

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