Does Russia have a democratic future: debates in the European Parliament

The European Union is unable to complete the revision of its policy towards Russia. Now, the European Parliament has also joined this "strategic discussion". On Tuesday evening, September 14, Members of the European Parliament (MEP) held a debate on EU-Russia relations at a plenary meeting in Strasbourg.

EU must distinguish between Russians and Russian authorities

"We want to have good relations with Russia, but it depends on Russia. It is impossible to have good relations with Russia ruled by an authoritarian, kleptocratic and aggressive Putin regime. Today's Russia is the greatest threat to European security," the permanent rapporteur of the European Parliament Lithuanian Andrius Kubilius opened the debate with such an assessment on Russia . He prepared a report, on the basis of which the MEPs plan to adopt a resolution with recommendations on how the EU can make its policy towards Russia more effective.

Kubilius stressed that he makes a distinction between the regime of Vladimir Putin and the Russian people," the first victim of this regime." But at the same time, the MEP rapporteur expressed optimism about the future of the Russian Federation: "We are absolutely sure that in the future, Russians will live under a democratic system of European-type government."

Can Russia Become Democratic?

A number of MEPs liked Kubilius' optimism. "We strive for as good relations and as great cooperation as possible with the people who share with us one continent, one culture and one civilization,"  the French liberal Bernard Guetta said. He stressed that "Putin and his regime are not eternal."

Other MEPs were more restrained. "I want everyone to understand perfectly well: there is no reason for optimism about the path of the current Russian regime," Sandra Kalniete said , a Latvian woman, who presented the position of the European People's Party (EPP) faction.

Although the Polish Social Democrat Marek Belka noted that he supports a democratic Russia, now, in his opinion, the European Union needs to strengthen its defense, cybersecurity and be ready to impose new sanctions. "Let's be honest, Russia has never treated the EU with respect, but rather viewed it as a postmodern whim of history," Belka added.

“To think that we can change and democratize Russian society is an illusion. For the last three centuries this state was built on the basis of imperialist goals. One generation is not enough to reverse this process. But we should try," Witold Waszczykowski said, a polish politician from the European Conservatives and Reformists (EKR) faction.

The EU is already building its policy on the distinction between the Putin regime and Russian society,  European Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen said, who represented European head of diplomacy Josep Borrell. At the same time, she recalled: "Democratization must start from within society. And the role of the EU is to support independent media and pluralism."

Source: DW