The European Union should make its relationship with Russia a priority, MEP Alain Lamassoure told EurActiv in an interview.
Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus agreed to form a customs union in 1995, followed in 1999 by a pact to create a common economic space.
In 2007 the Commission of the Customs Union was created, which took over some powers previously held by national authorities. The union was launched in 2010, establishing common tariff and non-tariff regulations amongst the member states.
The common economic space entered into force in January 2012, with the creation of the Eurasian Economic Commission the next month.
The establishment of a Eurasian Economic Union is scheduled for 2015.
Alain Lamassoure, a member of the European Parliament and former Minister in charge of EU Affairs in the French government, told EurActiv that the relationship between Europe and Russia is disappointing.
>> Click here to read the entire interview with Alain Lamassoure, in French.
“I am very disappointed of the errors Vladimir Putin is making in his analysis. He is twenty years late. He should think about the interests of Russia for the coming twenty years. He is trying, with an indisputable electoral success, to mobilise Russian nationalism in an anti-western, cold war spirit. This nationalism resonates in the Russian political and strategic influence zones, but the world problems in the 21st century are no longer perceived that way.”
Inefficient bilateral relations
The former EU Minister deplores that “everyone negotiates with Russia its own gas problems, or economic problems or some political problem like Ukraine, Georgia.”
“On the western side, depending on Moscow’s mood, Russia is considered either with mistrust, or as potential partner. It would be good to have a doctrine which would really allow us to talk to the Russian interlocutor.”
However, according to Lamassoure, Paris, Berlin and London are the ones defining the Russian policy, by aligning themselves with the United States.
“We consider in those three capitals that Washington is the leader vis-a-vis Moscow. But Washington has no Russian policy anymore. And given that Russian missiles don’t threaten the American soil anymore; the situation in Russia doesn’t call for an American strategy. However, the situation in Russia is very important to us Europeans, obviously.”
Calling on the Council of Europe to react
Alain Lamassoure admits that the European Parliament is powerless on the violation of democratic values in Russia, be it the rights of ethnic, religious or sexual minorities or the freedom of the media, but he calls on the Council of Europe to react.
“The Council of Europe has an important role to play regarding the respect of values and I find it very silent when it comes to Moscow.”
Ten years ago, Turkey was suspended because it didn’t respect some of the fundamental values of the Council of Europe. When there is a clear violation of the values of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Council of Europe is in charge and must react.
Lamassoure is a member of the European Parliament since 1999 and might run for office again.
“I will take a decision if I am reelected and depending on the way things will be in the new European Parliament, including the French representation. I will keep following the reform of the financing of the European budget and will probably still be active in the Budget Committee, but I will interested in other problems, too,” the deputy concludes.