MUNICH, Germany, September 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
European politicians and academics came together to discuss a variety of issues important to EU-Russia relations in light of the forthcoming Russian elections, at an international conference in Munich today. Topics discussed included the current geo-political and socio-economic landscapes in Europe and stability in European society; the Eurozone crisis and Arab Spring and how will the 2012 elections in Russia impact the European agenda.
An international panel stated that although the relationship between Germany and Russia has been strengthened in the past decade both nations, and Europe as a whole, could benefit from closer economic and political ties.
Wolfgang Ischinger, former German Ambassador to the UK and USA, explained how there has been, and continues to be an important shift of global power, and the relative weight of Europe on the global stage will decline further, because of the rise of others." Ischinger added: "This means that reasons for co-operation, financially, politically and economically, will increase not decrease. As a result the shared national interests of Germany and Russia dictates that we should seek out areas of closer co-operation."
"To do so we have to demilitarise our thinking. We don't have to develop defence hardware, on the contrary we have to develop a trusted relationship between Russia and NATO."
"Putin is well known in Europe," he added in an interview after the conference." We don't think that his return as President would be a problem."
Dr Srdja Trifkovic, Foreign Affairs Editor of 'Chronicles' Magazine, further emphasised that "The global re-distribution of power, and the continued crisis in the European Union, means that the EU and Europe must rediscover the benefits of togetherness."
In the wider context of the EU it was argued that there is a greater cause for European nations to build stronger and lasting relationships with one another. The conference addressed important issues including the future role of nations such as Russia and Germany in the global field, with reference to international intervention and economic assistance, discussing what closer ties might involve.
Dr Trifkovic continued: "The likely return of Putin will be beneficial to unlocking the untapped potential of German - Russian relations as well as with other European partners such as France and Italy." He added that this will be necessary in order to set Russia on the path to further modernization and help Russia "realize its full potential."
With the discussion turning to the outcome of the election Dr Mikhail Starshinov, Member of the Russian State Duma, noted how "there would be no surprises," stating how given the strong ratings of Putin it is likely that the parties who are now in power will remain so. "Stability is what Russia requires."
John Lloyd, contributing editor at the Financial Times, discussed how such a result would be received in Europe: "It is obvious to us that Vladimir Putin will come back to the Kremlin. This is stated by both politicians and sociologists. And the West will accept it without discomfort. He is a political and national leader….Putin's popularity remains."
"The impression that Europe is uniformly hostile towards Russia is wrong. In the last decade or so Russia has gone a long way in forming new relationships, through trade, tourism and more," he added.
Organised by the EU-Russia Centre think tank, and the Moscow based Institute of International Integration Studies, the conference, entitled 'The relations between the EU and Russia, expectations from Germany regarding the upcoming elections', was held at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof, Munich, Germany. The panel discussions were moderated by Dr Fraser Cameron of the EU-Russia Centre, who summarised the discussion and noted the reforms and steps taken to modernise by Russia in recent years: "In the West it is common to imply that Russia's modernization was initiated by President Medvedev. Actually, this is not true. We have to remind everyone that it was Prime Minister Vladimir Putin who became aware of the need for political and economic reform. He did it long before the article by Medvedev called on Russia to move forward. Moreover, he started these reforms. It is him who has to continue them."
Participants in the panel discussions included Dr Alexander Babakov, Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Duma, Dr Sergey Serebrennikov, Director of Institute of International Integration Studies, Dr Peter Duncan, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Russian Politics and Society, University College London, John Lloyd, contributing editor at the Financial Times and Helen Teplitskaia, Founder and President of the American-Russian Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
SOURCE The Institute of International Integration Studies