VIENNA, January 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
The re-election of Putin as President will bring much needed "stability" to Europe and its relations with its neighbours
A panel of European and Russian politicians has called for a redoubling of efforts to secure closer bilateral relations between Central Europe and Russia, at an international conference in Vienna today.
Former Vice-Chancellor of Austria and Coordinator of South European Initiative for Cooperation, Dr. Erhard Busek, said: "Central Europe is a bridge between the EU and the Russian Federation - in economy, energy and crisis management, the two are interdependent. The dialogue between Russia and Central Europe has begun, but there is much work to do.
The panel concluded that given the Eurozone crisis the Russian Federation has become an increasingly important neighbour and ally to Europe. Relative economic growth and political stability in Russia, can help drive economic recovery in the Eurozone.
"Russia joining the WTO is a very important step for the improvement of relations. Economic relations can be a training course for coming closer together. The modernisation of the Russian economy has played a very important part in this. It is important to note that the business community are Putin fans. Any other development would create instability, which would be bad for business." Busek added.
Veit Sorger, President of the Austrian Federation of Industries, said: "Russia is of prime significance to us... 4% growth in Russia is remarkable. Half of its commodity exports go to the EU, whilst 40% of all Russian imports come from the EU. This demonstrates the importance of this interdependent relationship...The potential of the Russian market is large, especially for SMEs."
Alexander Babakov, Deputy Speaker of the Russian State Duma, commented: "With Russia's recent accession to the WTO, Russia is becoming a more and more important global player. We hope that investment into the Russian market will develop. Russia is not only open for business, but is serious in improving its relations with its close neighbours. As a result we hope to see an increase in foreign investment into Russia and Russian investment into the Central European region."
The panel cited that Vladimir Putin's likely return as President will ensure stability, that will not only be beneficial for the European economy, but for the prospect of increased relations, not only on energy, with Russia in the coming years.
Fania Kirschenbaum, Member of Knesset in Israel, said: "We must unite to achieve stability, security and prosperity... We must develop common positions, but we must have stable governments to achieve this... Putin has brought stability to the country and to the government. The country can rely on him to continue the development of Russia that can they trust in."
Anthony Salvia, Director of the American Institute of Ukraine, added: "Putin has not only helped to bring about democracy in Russia, as the recent elections have shown, but has had a key role in developing a strong security policy. If Putin comes back to power this will be positive for foreign relations, especially with the US. Putin's acts of statecraft have been impressive. He deserves to get his due for what he has done for Russia over the years, especially the economic performance."
Organised by IPM - Middleeuropean Initiative and a Russian think tank The Institute of International Integration Studies, the conference, entitled Central Europe & the Russian Federation - a dialogue for partnership. Perspectives regarding the upcoming presidential elections', was held at House of Industry, Vienna.
Speakers included Valery Fedorov, Head of Russian Centre for Public Opinion Polls; H.E Erhard Busek, former Vice-Chancellor of Austria; John Lloyd, contributing editor at the Financial Times; Veit Sorger, President of the Austrian Chamber of Industry; H.E Sergej Netschajew, Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Austria; Patrick Butler, Board Member Raiffeisen International, Mikhail Starshinov, Member of the Russian State Duma; as well as members of the European Parliament.
Notes to editors
The IIIS is a Russian think tank, based in Moscow and set-up in 2008 as a non-governmental, non-commercial public organisation to discuss and promote closer relations between the Federal Republic of Russia and its neighbours, through round table discussions, seminars and conferences in and around Europe and the world. The Institute's main aim is to carry out studies of integration processes in the post-Soviet space, Europe and other parts of the world in the fields of politics, economy, defence and security.
SOURCE The Institute of International Integration Studies