Strategic Partnership vs. Global Crisis


In Brussels some weeks ago we discussed rather sharply with our colleagues in the European Parliament the future of the new basic agreement between Russia and the EU. Some of our vis-a-vis would prefer not to name it a "strategic partnership agreement" but only a "new partnership." It seems that, first of all, we have to write the text, and only give it a title after we have written it.

The Russian side has another way of looking at it — before writing the new text we have to know for what purpose we are writing it because we already have an agreement for ordinary cooperation. It was designed in the early 1990s and is still in force. But the world has changed dramatically since then, and the new century has brought us new challenges, global ones. To deal with them successfully, we must have a strategic partnership, at least in Europe.

The EU and Russia are the main parts of the Old World. We are united forever, not only geographically, but by our mutual history and culture. After the end of the Soviet state we could start new, deep and wide economic cooperation. Now Russian turnover with the EU is about half of total foreign turnover for the Russian Federation. EU investors are the main foreign investors in Russia. In turn, Russia is among the three main economic partners of the European Union. Together we already deal with issues like global security, social and economic development, improvement of the international financial system, climate change and environment protection, intercultural dialogue and the fight with international crime.

When we speak about EU-Russia strategic partnership in the 21st century, we have to keep in mind that our common interests, goals and values, which cannot be defined by the official papers alone, have strong support in societies from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans. This is not possible to do without a direct, open and nonstop dialogue between us. But it is not easy to create real trust based only on our leaders' meetings, existing diplomatic channels or publications in the worldwide media. After three sharp crises of our recent past — the August war in the Caucuses, the world financial collapse and the blockade of the gas transit in Ukraine — we can see again a lack of trust on all levels.

One of the solutions to these problems may be in the Internet. This magical space gives us the opportunity to contact one another immediately, directly and openly. That is why we decided to prolong our interparliamentary discussions based on a special web site. We called it "The EU-Russia: Partnership and Success," or P&S (www.ruseu.com). And we have already involved our lawmakers, high-level diplomats, well-known experts and business people in it.

We started this nonprofit project two months ago, and now there are P&S users in over 50 countries on six continents. Incidentally, in P&S you can see the results of a February dispute in the European Parliament about the definition of the EU-Russia partnership. In the first article of a final statement from the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, we read that "close and strategic partnership, enhanced cooperation and good-neighborly relations between the European Union and Russia can create a stable foundation and a precondition for stability, security and prosperity in Europe and worldwide."