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Speech by the President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek at the European Studies Institute of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO): 'EU-Russia strategic partnership in light of the challenges for global governance'

Moscow -
Monday, June 21, 2010

Dear Rector Torkunov,
Dear Professor Zielonka,
Dear Students,
Dear Friends,

Before I make my remarks, I would like to express my personal thanks for the sympathy and condolences which the Russian people expressed to Poland at the death of President Kaczynski, Maria Kaczynska and 94 other Poles on their way to commemorate the victims of the Katyn massacre.

I hope that the tragedy which happened in Smolensk will allow us to close certain painful chapters in our mutual history.

I would like to thank you particularly Rector Torkunov for co-chairing with Adam Rotfeld the Polish-Russian group on "difficult issues". I think we have made a lot of progress.

Dear Students,

When I look back upon my life I sometimes have to remind myself of the journey we in Central and Eastern Europe took to get where we are today.  

As some of you may know my true vocation has always been that of a scientist and academic. I am an Engineer not a political scientist. The science of politics came later in life but my passion has always been knowledge and passing on knowledge to the next generation.

I grew up in a system where art was censored, where history was falsified, and politics had only one colour. I chose science, because even the Party had to accept the iron discipline of mathematics.

Dear Friends,

With the entrance of ten new member states to the European Union in 2004 and Romania and Bulgaria in 2007, we have reunited our continent, but more importantly we have reconciled part of our continent.

French-German reconciliation allowed for the first European Community to be created, the same as Polish-German reconciliation paved the way for the enlargement to Central and Eastern Europe. However, this work needs to be continued. Healing the historic wounds of Europe should be a common undertaking of the European Union and its neighbours and partners, including Russia.

Today, we live in a different Europe, one where the President of the European Parliament is from a country that not long ago would imprison me for speaking to you freely; it would not matter though, because I would probably not have been invited to speak at this institute anyway!

We have come a long way. We have a new European Treaty, a new Commission and a new Parliament. The Lisbon Treaty will help Europe better coordinate its policies both internally and externally - and we hope, help all of us to develop a new way of dealing with the rest of the world.

I think that this is a good moment to reflect on our relationship and where the EU-Russia partnership is going in the future.

Dear Friends,

The world we live in today is multipolar but, this does not mean there are no common challenges we need to face together.

In this new century, I believe that we need a new form of global governance, new collective leadership as your Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has put it.

We must look beyond bilateral relations and alliances. Our Eastern Partnership and our Black Sea Synergy Policies, are not designed to be anti-Russian, they are rather good neighbourhood policies. There are no exclusive sphere of influences any longer - the world is the sphere of influence of all responsible global powers.

In this second decade of the 21st century, the relative power of both Europe and the United States - and the rest of the so-called "West" - is already decreasing.

But new power for certain emerging economies also means new responsibility. Governance is not just about international relations, it is about how countries manage the challenges we all face.

Russia and the European Union have shown that they can work together on issues which affect us all, as in the Middle East Quartet or within the United Nations on Iran.

Dear Friends,

The EU is by far your main trading partner, accounting for over 50% of your trade turnover. We are also the most important investor in Russia. Some 75% of FDI stocks come from EU Member States

Russia and the EU need to cooperate more - with each other, but also with other partners around the world. Our relationship can and should make us stronger and should not be seen as a threat, but rather as an opportunity.

I believe the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement we are currently negotiating will lay the foundation for a better, and deeper, cooperation in the future.

We all know the problems we face today - economic insecurity, energy dependency, climate change, migration, terrorism. Common action on these fronts is essential.

And in addressing these issues, we need to find ways of bringing on board other countries such as China, India and the other regional powers. They also must have a sense of ownership since they too are stakeholders in this world's governance. I passed this very message to the Chinese leaders only 3 weeks ago.

I often use the small example of combating piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

For the first time Russian war ships operate next to Chinese, American, European and South Korean vessels. Why? Because these pirates are a threat to the 30 000 ships which sail through this passage. Ships which are bound for Europe, and to Asia.

We have a common interest to make sure international trade is not halted. As we have common interests in other issues.

Still, there are differences we should not be shy of discussing. The European Union will never accept any violation of territorial integrity  of an independent state nor will we recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Military aggression is not a valid option in the tool box of 21 century foreign policy. Nor is political use of energy deliveries.

Dear Friends,

The new global governance has to be based on common standards, common principles, and universal rights.

If we expect our trade to be free, our financial markets to be open, our goods and services to be sold without barriers, then we need to have a common approach.

We must make sure that the rule of law is respected so that the business environment feels secure. The long term strategic interest of Russia and the EU is to create a Common Economic Space of 600 million consumers. This will be a benefit to us all. But, in my view, this can only be possible if the judiciary is truly independent and transparent and the problems of corruption are effectively tackled.

This is why the EU support's Russia's accession to the WTO. We also hope that the new "Partnership for Modernisation" we just launched will be an important compliment of the future EU-Russia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.

Dear Colleagues,

As with the EU which needs to continue its transformation, Russia also faces the challenge of modernisation. Lev Tolstoy once said that "Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself".

Like Europe, you need to invest in your infrastructure which was last upgraded in the 1970s, but not only in energy infrastructure. If the EU and Russia wish to be success stories in the 21st century, we need to change.

You have to diversify your economy and not become dependent only on oil and gas which have become 'Russia's drug' as President Medvedev quite rightly said.

This modernisation has to be all-encompassing though, and not be just an economic modernisation. A truly modern state must guarantee its citizens the right to live up to their potentials, it has to guarantee education, health care, a free press and this universal value which is human rights.

We treat you as our friends, and as such, we raise issues which concern us. Human rights and human rights violations notably in the Caucasus; the unsolved murders of journalists and human rights activists; the impunity of the secret services, these are all issues that we as your friends are concerned about, and as such, we need to raise.

Russia will never be a modern state if she can not come to terms with these issues. This is important not for us, but for you as a modern and democratic society which is what you wish to be.

The European Parliament's annual human rights prize is named after Andrei Sakharov who once said that: "We must make demands of reason and create a life worthy of ourselves and of the goals we only dimly perceive."

Russia should have the courage to imagine itself in fifty years time and then make it happen.

Dear Students,

We must also have a common approach on the free exchange of ideas, on the free exchange of information, because we are living in a global community and we expect you, Russia's citizens to be full members of this community.

This is why I believe that small step such as the  gradual establishment of a visa free regime is so important, because it contributes to this exchange.

Russia and the EU must be a community of equal partners, friends and colleagues who take responsibility for the challenges we all face. I know that I am speaking today to the future leaders of Russia and I am confident that you will be ready to take responsibility for our new global order.

Dear Friends,

The 21st century will not be a century of peace and stability if we do not get the new global governance right. Russia is a key player in this governance. We need to work together to get it right.

Thank you.