Strategic dialogue with Russia needed

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

Despite the recent past being a “miserable time for political relations between Russia and both the EU and the US,” the prospect of new leadership is expected to “transform the current state of affairs,” writes Michael Emerson of the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in a May 2008 paper.

Faced with rising powers such as Asia and the emergence of a “multi-polar world”, EU and Western countries need to develop a strategy to tackle new foreign policy challenges, suggests Michael Emerson. 

To this end, the paper argues it would be in the West’s interest to include Russia in its political, economic and security plans, as both aim at common objectives. 

The author argues that the most efficient way to “reach a tipping point” between the US, the EU and Russia is to set a “strategic framework” to clear up divisions, stressing the need to invite Russia to begin dialogue on key issues. 

Emerson identifies a “package of steps” likely to unblock the current situation: 

  • He suggests Russia joins NATO, for both share common security threats.
  • Regarding the next EU-Russia treaty, he emphasises the need for visa-free travelfree trade in goods and services, and the definition of rules relating to energy investments

His package offers Ukraine the possibility of launching an action plan to become a NATO member. But Ukrainian EU membership aspirations are under threat from a few European states, he warns. France and Germany are leading the opposition to both membership proposals, says the paper. 

Emerson underlines the importance of building a tactical partnership between the EU and Russia, particularly as outside NATO, Russia “repeatedly demonstrated it can cause a lot of trouble” during Putin’s presidency.

To conclude, the author highlights the need to improve US–Russia relations via strategic exchanges, making the case for a “regular-summit level dialogue of the NATO-Russia Council and/or a new G4 summit process”. 

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