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Debates
Tuesday, 9 June 2015 - Strasbourg Revised edition

State of EU-Russia relations (debate)
MPphoto
 

  Gabrielius Landsbergis, rapporteur. Mr President, first of all let me thank all the shadow rapporteurs – Ms Jaakonsaari, Mr van Baalen, Ms Fotyga, Mr Meszerics and Mr Šoltes – for all their work, and for the proposals that were made and amendments that were tabled during the process of preparing this report. I would also like to thank all those colleagues – MEPs and Parliament staff – for their very valuable input into this very sensitive and important matter that we are here to discuss: EU-Russia relations.

I would like to note that while preparing the report I was planning on going and taking the opportunity to hear what the officials in Moscow had to say. Unfortunately, my fact-finding mission did not take place, since my delegation was not let into Russia. We can only regret that now, 19 of our colleagues find themselves on the illegal Russian visa ban list. This is not only disrespect to the European Parliament but an insult to the EU as a whole, which bases international cooperation on transparent and peaceful dialogue.

When preparing for this speech I looked for inspiration from Churchill’s Fulton speech. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom saw the dramatic geopolitical changes that were arriving in his wake when he said these words: ‘If the Western Democracies stand together in strict adherence to the principles [of the United Nations Charter, their influence] will be immense and no one is likely to molest them. If however they become divided or falter in their duty and if these all-important years are allowed to slip away, then indeed catastrophe may overwhelm us all’.

When everyone in Europe was tired after the war, it took great courage to name the situation, as it was – if not acted upon – possibly as dangerous as the situation created by the Nazis. There are countries and people who would say the same thing about today’s situation. Europe’s post-war peace order is challenged by the occupation of Crimea and continuing Russian military aggression in Ukraine. There should be no fear in naming it that way. But the European continent had not only the Cold War: it also had the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Singing Revolution, which was one of the reasons that made my speech here today possible. It all happened in a semi-peaceful way. It seemed that history has indeed come to an end: democracy and the rule of law are prevailing over aggression and unlawfulness and war. Further EU enlargement is an excellent example of peaceful European order.

So one could say that there is a solution, there is a possibility of building a peaceful cohabitation with all the countries on the continent. But at this moment it is not Europe which will decide it.

The European Union adheres to the very clear principles of the rule of law, transparency and self-determination, therefore numerous different formats and initiatives were offered to Russia in order to usher the Russian people to the path of democracy and reform. The European Union was even generous in offering strategic partnership or ‘common spaces’ initiatives, but the respect of human rights and democratic principles kept on deteriorating in Russia. Europe even turned a blind eye when people in the Kremlin were breaking the established order of international treaties. Europe did not do much when the Russian troops entered Georgia’s territory and remained silent during the establishment of the Gazprom monopoly in certain countries and during trade wars when Russia would close down its borders under political pretexts.

But Europe is not there any longer. After the illegal annexation of Crimea, after the MH17 plane was shot down from the sky, Europe took Churchill’s advice and spoke out, and it will speak again, I am sure. There will be more and tougher sanctions if the international obligations set out in two Minsk agreements are not respected and if more people die because the guns keep flowing through the unprotected border.

Europe will speak out when the rules of the internal market are challenged by uncompromising monopoly companies which long thought that corrupt deals would keep them above the law. Europe will say a word or two when the political parties that disagree with the very principles of European Union, like democracy, receive funding from financial institutions linked to the people running the Kremlin.

(The President cut off the speaker)

 
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