Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Vladimir Kara-Murza Meet With European Leaders to Discuss Russia-Europe Cooperation

September 7, 2017

In Talinn, Estonia on September 7 Open Russia’s Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Vladimir Kara-Murza joined European leaders at a summit hosted by the European People’s Party in order to discuss issues of common European security, as well as a strategy for Russian-European dialogue. 

Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Vladimir Kara-Murza spoke today at a summit hosted by the European People’s Party (EPP) which convened to discuss European security threats and the new challenges Europe faces from Russia.  The panel was chaired by Sandra Kalniete MEP, Vice-Chairwoman of the EPP, while Khodorkovsky and Kara-Murza were joined by fellow panelist Kalev Stoicescu, Research Fellow at the International Centre for Defence and Security.

In advance of the summit the EPP had called for “close cooperation” from European member states in creating a strategy that offers “a principled approach in the area of common interests” as well as a “credible deterrence” against violations of international law.  The summit conveniently took place in Estonia, one of the largest targets of Russian ‘soft power’ and cyber attacks, and during the summit was hailed by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as “leading the way” in the field of cyber-deterrence.

The EPP’s draft Position Paper on Russia recognises the necessity to “engage in people-to-people contacts and support Russian civil society”, and Open Russia’s presence at the discussion provided an ideal interlocutor for the discussion.  Both Vladimir Kara-Murza and Mikhail Khodorkovsky frequently speak of the importance of broadening connections with Russian civil society, in a sense “looking past” the corrupt Putin regime, and building relationships with those who will run the country when today’s regime inevitably falls.

Around 100 MEPs were present at the event in the Estonian capital of Tallinn, among whom were David McAllister, Chair of the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee, and Manfred Weber MEP, Chairman of the EPP.  There was a common theme to the event, as emphasised by remarks from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, that issues of NATO and European security are inextricably tied.  He also clarified for all present that the top two threats to Europe now come from the East, and from Islamic terrorism in the South.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky has said frequently that Russia, as an historic European country, belongs in the European family of nations; as characterised by the prevalence of the rule of law, individual liberty and respect for human rights.  This message is vital both from the point of view of European security, but also in terms of engagement and cooperation with Russian civil society.

The EPP’s draft Position Paper states that “The EU is encouraged to reach out to Russian officials of the local, regional and national level, through all provided platforms and civil society organisations that are inclined to develop a vision of political and diplomatic relations with the EU based on partnership and cooperation.”

As America distances itself from issues of European security, the Tallinn summit is a positive example of how Europeans themselves are taking the initiative not only in areas of common defence policy, but also in their strategy for creating meaningful, cooperative dialogue between Russia and the European peoples.

Further information to come regarding Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Vladimir Kara-Murza’s contributions. 

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