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11 Feb, 2010 14:15

EC suggests a modernization plan to Russia

The European Commission has sent Moscow a document called “Partnership for Modernization”, in which it offered its help in modernizing Russia’s economy and making it more innovative.

Russian Ambassador in the EU Evgeny Chizhov has confirmed the document has been received and was sent to several ministries for consideration marked “for internal use only”.

The exact content of the document is still unknown. However, according to Russian daily Kommersant, the main idea of the document is that modernization is impossible without democratization of the country.

The European Commission therefore suggests that Russia should first reform its legal system, ensuring the rule of law, curb corruption, improve the investment climate, get NGOs engaged in the modernization process and then, with help from the EU, Russia should be brought closer to European technological and economic standards.

Russia’s ambassador to the EU stressed however, that Moscow welcomes the program’s economic and technological initiatives, but rejects what it calls the EU’s lecturing on democratic values: "The program should rather be focused on practical issues and contain no discussions of the benefits of European values."  The ambassador also added that the relationship between the EU and Russia should not be one of a “patron” and a “favored one”.

According to some sources, the program is the EU’s response to President Dmitry Medvedev’s article “Go Russia!”, published in September last year. In it, he urged fundamental changes in cutting the economy’s dependence on natural resources and pointed at Russia’s need for reforms.

Later in November, during his annual address to the Federal Assembly, Dmitry Medvedev restated some of the key points mentioned in the article. Some experts say, the address sounded similar to Mikhail Gorbachev’s Perestroika plans: “In the 21st Century our country needs an overall modernization. And this will be the first modernization experiment in our country based on democratic values.”

In addition, earlier this month, Russian think-tank “INSOR” – of which Dmitry Medvedev is also the head of the board of trustees – presented the government with a detailed plan of suggested reforms in Russia.

It is expected that the document will further be discussed in May this year at the Russia-EU summit in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.

Olga Masalkova, RT