A meeting of the Valdai club experts with Prime Minister of Sweden (1991-1994) and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden Carl Bildt took place within the ECFR visit to Moscow at March 14, 2016.
The discussion was dominated by reflections on a new agenda of the Russian-European Union relations. Mr. Bildt admitted that the current situation is far from the optimistic mood in which Russia and European Union were in about 2003. He believes that the major reason for it is the economic avulsion, which occurred after the implementation of the idea of Custom Union. Other experts did not fall in line with this point and stated that there are many examples proving that successful cooperation between similar organizations and European Union is possible and one of them is Latin American MERCOSUR.
Economic cooperation is vital for maintaining political relations and thus, as was asserted by the members of this talk, idea of the common economic space from Lisbon to Vladivostok is not only probable but indispensable for the prolongation of the successful Russian-EU relationship. Just as TTIP and CETA building a trading network with Eurasia is “the DNA of the European Union”.
Ukrainian crisis was also on the table. Full implementation of the Minsk agreements as Mr. Bildt insisted is the only way to avoid further deterioration between Russia and the EU. Carl Bildt firmly believes that Ukraine has a strong economic potential, which is similar to the potential of Vietnam in Southeast Asia. Its geographical position makes it very attractive for the investors. He supposes that one of the main constraining factors of its growth is Russian sanctions against Ukraine.
“The Maidan generation” as Mr. Bildt believes is the first real post-Soviet generation in Ukraine which will make the future. Decentralization will appear in a new Ukrainian constitution at the local level. The experience of the past examples, such as the peace settlement in Bosnia should be the core of the new Ukrainian elections system, Carl Bildt believes.
To conclude the meeting, all the experts concurred that the main goal of the Russian-European Union future is to prevent the any chance of incipience of a new Ukrainian crisis.