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Debates
Monday, 11 March 2019 - Strasbourg Revised edition

State of EU-Russia political relations (debate)
MPphoto
 

  Sandra Kalniete, Rapporteur. – Mr President, the title of my report is ‘On the state of EU-Russia political relations’. It was not an easy task to produce a report on relations in a situation in which the European Union and its associated partners are being attacked by Russian state-sponsored actors that creatively use a wide range of hybrid warfare techniques. As a result, a significant part of the report addresses the resilience of the Union and its ability to deter hybrid threats.

Today, five years after the occupation of Crimea, we stress that there will be no return to ‘business as usual’ until Russia fully restores the territorial integrity of Ukraine. We need to reassess the basis of our relations with Russia, as it can no longer be considered a strategic partner. The outdated EU-Russia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement should be reconsidered and any future framework for the EU-Russia relationship should be based on the full observance of international law and OSCE principles. The time for nice diplomatic language is over.

Unfortunately, there is no place, space or time for major new cooperation initiatives with Russia. There is very little room for any cooperation so long as Russia continues to occupy parts of Ukraine and hybrid attacks on other European countries continue. We should, however, continue selective engagement with Russia in areas of vital interest to the Union. The global challenges of climate change, energy security, digitalisation, non-proliferation and the fight against terrorism are a few of them.

We should stand firm on sanctions, which should be prolonged for as long as Russian violations of international law continue. I advocate a clear message to Russia regarding the sanctions: ‘more for more, less for less’.

As we witness serious deterioration in the human rights situation in Russia, the Council has to move on with adopting a European Magnitsky Act, establishing an individual sanctions regime for human rights violations. The key to a more effective EU policy towards Russia is coherence between internal and external policies. This applies in full to Nord Stream 2, a project that reinforces EU dependency on Russian gas supplies, threatens the EU internal market and is not in line with either European energy or foreign and security policy. It needs to be stopped.

The report’s list of recommendations for interaction with Russia is rather limited, but some of them should be mentioned: continued support for people-to-people contacts in general – particularly involving civil society activists and with a focus on young people – and a clear code of conduct concerning airspace used by military and civilian aircraft, in order to reduce the risk of misunderstandings, misinterpretation and misreading of each other’s intentions. There can only be political solutions to the conflict in eastern Ukraine and we have to encourage confidence-building measures in the Donbas region across the Line of Contact. The EU has to advance the idea of a UN-led peace operation in this region of eastern Ukraine.

To conclude, I would like to thank my shadow rapporteurs for their team spirit and for the constructive work done on this document.

 
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