EU-Russia relations: Alternative Futures

Avoin tilaisuus - ilmoittautuminen vaaditaan
Sergei Medvedev Sergei Medvedev

Pe 17.3.2006
The Finnish Institute of International Affairs
Mannerheimintie 15 A

Summary of Dr Sergei Medvedev’s presentation

Dr Sergei Medvedev, Professor at the Moscow Higher School of Economics, spoke on the EU-Russia relations concerning both their current stage and future developments. In the words of Dr Medevdev, the present state of relationship can be compared to that of stagnation, reminiscent of zastoi of the Brezhnev era in the1970s. There is no evident crisis, rather a perpetual stalemate. Dr Medvedev pointed out the main structural impediments in the EU-Russia relations. Overall, there is a lack of ”mega-incentive” of Russian membership in the EU. On the EU side, the political machinery is ill-suited for dealing with non-acceding ”partners”. On the Russian side, there is lack of certainty as to how to deal with the EU: by developing relations with major EU member states or relying on technical bureaucratic process of the EU decision-making. Importantly, Dr Medvedev stressed the changing role of the nation state as a crucial variable in shaping the relationship on both sides.

As far as the future directions are concerned, Dr Medvedev pointed out three major ”scenarios” ranging from partnership (low probability), cold peace (medium probability), and zastoi (high probability). In Dr Medevedev’s assessment, the negative trends will be prevailing in the EU-Russia relationship in the years to come. These include perpetuation of the current system in Russia beyond the 2007-08 election cycle. The toleration of this system by the West can be explained by Russia’s geopolitical position, oil resources, and security risks such as terrorism. Furthermore, it is likely that uncertainty in Europe will continue over the future of enlargement, EU internal system. All this will result in Russia slipping to the bottom of the list of the EU’s priorities.

In conclusion, Dr Medvedev briefly pondered into the possibilities of facilitating the positive change in the EU-Russia relationship. He mentioned that a liberal modernization in Russia and the EU’s emerging global actorness might lead to a qualitative change. Dr Medvedev also stressed that the forthcoming presidency of Finland in the EU might have a special role in improving the relations between the EU and Russia.

Professor Medvedev´s powerpoint-presentation