Interview with Vyacheslav Nikonov

Vyacheslav Nikonov, the President of Moscow-based “Politika” Foundation, commented for Russia Today on the atmosphere in which the current Russia-EU summit takes place and generally on the prospects of Russian-European relations.

Russia Today: What were your impressions of what President Putin, and his guests, had to say in Samara?

Vyasheslav Nikonov: Unlike many journalists and commentators I would like to stress some positive aspects in the relationship between Russia and the EU. Russia has become the third largest trading partner of the EU. It has been the most reliable source of energy for the last, at least 35 years. The EU is the most important economic partner for Russia, accounting for about 53% of the country's foreign trade. We have quite a promising agenda, the programme of four common spaces which is implemented, of course there is a serious setback linked to drafting new partnership and co-operation agreement which rather important document. To my mind the EU is interested in the partnership and co-operation agreement no less than Russia.

RT: Is there any other way to start that partnership agreement? Maybe the EU should step away from one country vetoing it because we have Estonia, Lithuania, Poland.

V.N.: I think that inside the regulations of the EU there is no way out of the veto of the member state. We could foresee this problem quite a while ago. When we discussed with our European friends and partners the consequences of the EU enlargement, the question was raised that they are adding some states where ruling elites are not very sympathetic towards Russia. The answer of the old members of the EU was that we should not worry, that they will try to civilise new members and make them less anti-Russian but it turned the other way round. Now it looks like some historic phobias of Eastern European countries are becoming the mainstream of the EU. I do not think there is a way round within the EU regulations. Moreover, even if we reach a deal on the agreement in question it has to be ratified by the parliaments of 27 EU member states. At this point it looks and sounds like a non-starter to me. It is important for Russia and the European Commission to negotiate on the issues of interest to both parties