European Parliament’s resolution on relations with Russia reaches out to progressive pro-European forces

June 10, 2015

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The European Union should realise that another Russia lies beyond the aggression, propaganda and repression of the Kremlin regime, and should enhance dialogue with pro-European elements in the country, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) said this week in Strasbourg as they passed a hard-hitting resolution on EU-Russia relations.

The resolution, authored by Lithuanian MEP Gabrielius Landsbergis, charts the deterioration of EU-Russia ties in the past decade, and in particular since the Russian-backed conflict in eastern Ukraine began.

During a debate on the resolution, speakers from across the EU’s member states highlighted the systematic corrosion of fundamental rights and the rule of law in Russia, and called for the EU to prioritise dialogue with Russia and its citizens in a way that promotes and reinforces European values.

The passage of the resolution comes days after a ‘blacklist’ of 89 European political figures, including 19 MEPs, banned from entering Russia was published.


Polish MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski called on EU leaders not to abandon those fighting for change and progress in Russia:

“What is most important in our relations with Russia is to be consistent and united. Relations between us and Russia have never been as bad as they are now. They are a result of the aggressive policies of President Putin. But let us not forget that there is a Russia other than the one we are dealing with now – the Russia of Sakharov, Politkovskaya, Nemtsov, Kovalyov and Memorial.”

Hans van Baalen, a Dutch MEP on the ‘blacklist’, said that the EU’s policy needed to be balanced and mindful of the desire of many Russians for reform in their country:

“It is a two-track approach: it means being hard on Putin but willing to cooperate with Russian civil society, because many Russians want peace as well. It will take a lot of time. In this Parliament we always want things to happen overnight, but Putin has a long-term strategy of crippling Russia’s neighbours. So also to return Putin, or a successor, to international law will take time, and we have to be tough. We should not give in – let time do its work. There are no speedy resolutions, no business as usual.”

Heidi Hautala, a Green MEP from Finland, said the Russian regime should not be enabled to divide EU member states and weaken the EU’s common policy:

“I agree with everyone who has said that the EU must remain open to a constructive relationship and to dialogue leading to that, and that the EU wishes to return to cooperative relations with Russia, should the Russian authorities meet their international legal obligations. It is our duty to find openings of this kind. However, in the current situation, with Russia again increasing and accelerating its military measures against Ukraine, it is of the utmost importance that the EU stands firm.”

Charles Tannock, a British Conservative MEP, told the parliamentary session that the Russian regime is trying fundamentally to reshape the global political order:

“Putin rages against a unipolar world: what he intends, in reality, is the unravelling of the post-war settlements, based on the rule of law and human rights, in favour of the ‘might is right’ dogma.”

Gunnar Hökmark, an MEP from Sweden, said that the Kremlin’s behaviour is based on its own fear:

“No one is threatening Russia. But the Putin regime fears democracy, the rule of law and freedom of expression. They fear the open dialogue that we want. That is why some of us are blacklisted, because they want to blacklist freedom of expression and democracy and the open society.”