"Russia and the EU: Three Questions About the New Principles of Relationship

On November 25, 2016, in Berlin, the Valdai Discussion Club and the German-Russian forum held a joint business breakfast devoted to the Valdai Club report titled "Russia and the EU: Three questions about the new principles of relationship."

In his opening remarks Alexander Rahr, member of the Valdai Discussion Club and scientific director of the German-Russian Forum, emphasized the importance of the debate on this issue in conditions when the international context is rapidly changing. He recalled that despite rather unfavorable atmosphere of the German debates about Russia, there is a considerable number of supporters for the restoration and strengthening of bilateral business and political ties. "Many people raise the question of the "repair" of European security system which was significantly affected by acute crises of recent years" - Rahr said. Meanwhile, according to him, in Germany and in Europe as a whole, many still prefer to pretend that no "repair" is necessary, because the system is working properly.

Fyodor Lukyanov, Research Director of the Valdai Discussion Club in his turn noted that relative discussions were underway in Russia, but there experts more often point out that the European system does not need "repair", but the elimination in its current form and complete reorganization. "The current system is the result of illusions and expectations that many of us have experienced at the turn of the 80s and 90s of the last century. The Charter of Paris for a New Europe, signed in 1990, could not become a sustainable basis for a new European configuration "- Lukyanov said.

Timofei Bordachev, Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club, in his speech stressed the inextricable links between Russia and the rest of Europe. However, he called for a new approaches to understand the nature of the relationship. "They should be based to a greater extent on the interests, than on the unity values, and the focus should be not on "common" interests, but on the practical interests of each party" - Bordachev said.

Dmitry Suslov, Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club, drew attention to the interrelation between changes in the US policy and EU-Russia relations. According to him, we should not expect the revolution in foreign policy from the Trump administration, but the system of priorities will change dramatically, and Washington most likely will implement the "republican consensus" based on the rule of force, unilateral actions, but at the same time giving up ambitious plans for the remodelling of other countries and peoples. "Meanwhile it is difficult to say to what extent Europe will remain among the most important priorities of the United States" - Suslov said.

During further discussion the participants raised the issue of the 'European fatigue', which, according to many experts, happens in Russia. Russian participants stressed that Russia's policy is really becoming much more diversified and less Eurocentric. First, this is due to the revaluation of the role of Asia in the modern world, and second, to the understanding that the European Union is immersed in systemic institutional crisis for a long time.

German participants at the discussion agreed that the European policy, both at the national and at the EU levels, is now extremely dependent on a series of elections in key countries. Only in 1,5-2 years the new political configuration of Europe will be clear. Participants agreed that the development of the modern world does not allow pauses, and the inability to react to changes can bring to the marginalization of the most important trends.