EU must insist that Russia respect the rule of law

On the eve of the next EU-Russia summit to be held on 9-10 June in Nizhny Novgorod, ALDE has reiterated its call for more pressure to be put on Russia to uphold her international commitments and obligations but considers that there is insufficient progress on common issues to justify continuing with two summits a year.

Kristina Ojuland (Eesti Reformierakond, Estonia) ALDE Shadow Rapporteur on Russia outlined her concerns: “The EU will face major problems in its relationship with Russia unless the two partners share the same values and principles. If the Kremlin refuses to embrace democracy and the rule of law, Russia will lose all legitimacy as a partner for the EU.”

“The Kremlin has prevented a number of political parties from registering for the State Duma elections on procedural grounds. This continued suppression of the opposition is an issue to be raised at the summit and pressure must be put on Russia to allow opposition parties to register. ”

This was a point echoed by Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (FDP, Germany) ALDE Vice President, ” Since 1994 nothing has changed in our institutional relationship with Russia yet we clearly need an update of our Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. This should go hand in hand with genuine progress in the area of democracy and the rule of law. At present though there are an insufficient number of deliverable issues that justify the holding of two major summits per year. Now we have the EU external Action Service, one would suffice.”

Graham Watson (Liberal Democrat, UK), member of the Foreign Affairs committee points out that there have been some improvements nonetheless since the last Summit . “The agreement on a gas advisory forum and the improved early warning mechanism are among the improvements we have seen. Progress this month in solving the Transnistria conflict would be another positive step but real progress requires respect for democracy and human rights, and a stable and fair legal framework for business, which are too often absent in Russia. A structured civil society dialogue would help, and common action to fight climate change would help to build trust.

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