Special Advisor to PIR Center Vladimir Orlov will present his vision of the current state of Russian-European relations and their impact on European security and development. 

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GENEVA, JUNE 29, 2015. – Twenty-five years since the end of Cold War, the Greater Europe is split again. In the course of a year, things previously thought impossible, namely Ukrainian military conflict and mutual sanctions between the West and Russia, came to reality. Europe stands at the brink of a full-flagged crisis of the arms control system and faces growing military threats. Above all, the trust between the parties is lost, which impedes return to sustainable and effective dialogue on the security issues. What are the reasons of the existing situation and what needs to be done to cope with the crisis? Is European development feasible without Russia and vice versa?

On June 17, 2015, the annual meeting of members of the Geneva association Centre russe d’etudes politiques took place in partnership with PIR Center and Center of Political Analyses and Information Security. The event was organized with the support of Foraus Think Tank-Hub Geneva. The director of Centre russe d’etudes politiques and special advisor to PIR Center Vladimir Orlov presented his vision of the development of Russian-European relations. 

Vladimir Orlov emphasized that current cooling of relations between Russia and the West was quite predictable. Moscow was signaling its dissatisfaction with current situation for a long time. The unipolar model of the world and international order, guaranteeing   prosperity and security only for selected few, was unacceptable for Russian authorities. 

Russia has not only signaled its concern, Moscow has also come up with specific proposals, based on principles of common and indivisible security and mutual benefits. Russia insisted on two principles: to negotiate taking into account each other’s security interests and talk with mutual respect. 

Russia acted constructively; however, European leaders failed to conduct equal dialogue.  Russian proposals on development of the European security architecture, negotiations on European and Eurasian integration initiatives, and even the issue on visa-free regime were ignored by European bureaucratic system.  

The majority of Russian population shares the same view as its authorities on the issue of Russian-Europe relations. Imposition of European sanctions has not changed the mood of the Russian society rather it united the nation. At the same time, the European citizens are the ones who have to pay for the sanctions, footing the “American bills”. As a result of a new “Cold War” the parts of the Russian society advocating for rapprochement with the West were marginalized. 

Vladimir Orlov considers that though the opportunities for an inclusive dialogue are limited they still exist and should be used. Among the spheres for possible dialogue are the OSCE development; talks on new format for the conventional arms control and confidence building measures in Europe; addressing the INF issues; dialogue on establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in Europe; cooperation against terrorism; dialogue on migration security; negotiations on the prevention of an arms race in two new domains – space and cyberspace.

Russia and Europe will have to address the Ukrainian problem too. The real solution is possible only after the recognition of Ukrainian neutral status, no matter what is the legal framework.     

About forty members of the diplomatic and experts communities took part in Geneva meeting. The meeting allowed for a constructive discussion of the Vladimir Orlov’s presentation.

Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Poland to the UN Office in Geneva Wojciech Flera asked Vladimir Orlov: “Maybe Europe miscalculated somehow, but did not Russia do the same?” Vladimir Orlov agreed that both sides made mistakes; in particular, position of Viktor Yanukovych and the dynamics of events  in Ukraine were not fully predicted.

Minister-councilor of the EU mission to the UN Office in Geneva Cezary Lusiński agreed that Russian-European dialogue should base on mutual respect. He also claimed that Europe and Russia belonged to common cultural space. According to the European diplomat, this notion should be the foundation for further work and solution to the existing political challenges.

Participants of the meeting also emphasized that with stagnation in the security dialogue on the official level, it is important to develop expert discussions. Advisor of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, Ambassador Alain Guidetti noted that despite difficult situation and an urgent need to improve it, there is no active discussion of Russian-European relations in Geneva, which gives the recent meeting special importance.

Representative of Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the International Organizations in Geneva Richard Lucas emphasized that “blame game” should be stopped, in order to have a chance to address the real issues. Switzerland, having a unique opportunity to find new solutions, could have a special role in this process.

Participants of the meeting decided to promote the expert discussions, aimed at strengthening relations between Russia and European states, in Moscow, Geneva and other forums.  

For all questions related to the Centre russe d’études politiques, please contact the center’s team by phone: +41 79 736 90 34, email [email protected]