MADRID, October 17, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
Madrid Conference Calls for the Expansion of Bi-lateral Relations between the EU and its "most important partner" Russia
An international panel has called for closer economic and political ties between the Iberian region and Russia at a conference in Madrid today. The conference, which took place towards the end of the 2011 Dual Year of Spanish-Russian relations, was aimed at furthering bilateral relations in the political, economic, cultural, humanitarian and educational spheres.
The panel of European politicians and academics discussed the current geo-political and socio-economic landscapes in Europe and stability in European society; the Eurozone crisis; and the effect the likely outcome of both Spanish Parliamentary and Russian Parliamentary and Presidential elections will have on bi-lateral relations.
The importance of this conference was confirmed by the attendance of Jose Maria Aznar, Prime Minister of Spain (1996-2004) who called on Spain, the EU and Russia to work together to seek economic reforms, continue the fight against terrorism and prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. "There are great opportunities for Europe and Russia…There are many possibilities, not only energy, but (Russia) must reinforce economic, security, and legal guarantees for investors…I hope Spain and Russia will go out stronger after these elections and seek further reforms in economic and social structures… I think Russia must seek greater equality, justice and freedom, in order to consolidate the future of the country," he said.
"Russia is very important for the stability of Europe and the security of the world. When I was Prime Minister of Spain I had an open relationship with Russia. I had a good relationship with Putin who has a project for Russia too. It seems that Putin …is a man who you can deal with and do business with," he added.
The panel concluded that although the relationship between Spain and Russia has been strengthened in the past decade, such as enjoying close energy relations, both nations, and Europe as a whole, could benefit from closer ties.
Pablo Arias Echeverria, member of the European Parliament said: "We must work together to solve the issues of economic barriers between Russia and EU, through continued political dialogue. Russia is more liberated than ever before. Vladimir Putin shaped the middle class in Russia. It was during his presidency that Russia opened up to the West and approached the universal standards of democracy. I think that at the coming elections the people of Russia will vote for stable development that will be promoted by the next administration of Putin. However, Putin must continue the reforms to freedom that he started in his first Presidency."
Antonio Erias Rey, spokesperson of the People's Party in Committee of Energy, Tourism and Commerce of Congress of Deputies of Spain, went further: "The EU's relationship with Russia is strategically important. Russia is the larger neighbour, the main provider of energy, petrol and gas to the European Union…Russia is our main partner after the United States and China."
Riccardo Migliori, vice president of Parliamentary Assembly of OSCE, explained why: "Europe has lost much of its political strength. We, Europe, must reduce the gap with Russia, unless we want to relegate Europe to the footnote of history. Europe must consider Russia a close friend…We need them as much as they need us."
To this end it was agreed that the return of Putin as President would ensure the continued development of ties between the EU and Russia and the panel called for Putin to continue with reforms. Jorge Costa, former secretary of state for works and housing of Portugal stated: "We are sure that the likely outcome of the next election in Russia will help to guarantee stability and growth, reinforce geo-strategic relations between Russia and EU, and further trade between the EU and Russia."
Organised by the Moscow based Institute of International Integration Studies, and Spanish media holding company Mediasiete the conference, entitled 'The relations between the EU and Russia - An Iberian perspective - Expectations regarding the upcoming elections in Spain and Russia', was held at the Intercontinental Hotel, Madrid, Spain.
Participants in the panel discussions included Jose Maria Aznar Lopez, Prime Minister of Spain (1996-2004), Alexander Kuznetsov, Ambassador to the Russian State Duma in Spain, Ricardo Migliori, vice president of the OSCE PA, and Sergey Pravosudov, Director of Institute of National Energy (Russia), well as members of the European Parliament and regional and local Spanish politicians.
SOURCE The Institute of International Integration Studies