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19 Nov, 2009 08:02

Solana: I am not a revolutionary

When people are tired of you and you are not ready to leave that is not a democracy, believes Javier Solana, who is about to step down as the EU's foreign policy chief in an interview with RT.

RT: Why are you stepping down?

Javier Solana: One thing is that the EU has opened a new page and different stories what individuals do. I am a European and I have been working for the EU … before I was born. But I think I've been working in the position for 15 years and the position had to be changed and people have to be moved and that is healthy for any organization. That is healthy for the countries that we represent. That does not mean that I am going to sleep – I will be working for the same ideals from a different position.

RT: Is there any advice you would give the person who will succeed you?

JS: Yes, I will give them advice. Not in public but in private, whenever I know who he or she is. It's true that the person will have more capacity to represent an EU that will have more visibility after the treaty and more coherence in their actions. At a time when the process of globalization is so obvious, countries by themselves will not have a role to play in a new world structure. Therefore the unity and coherence is fundamental. Not only for the EU – look at Asia for instance, a group of countries which is being modeled institutionally much like the EU. Also in Latin America. The world has to be organized in such a structure that there's global governance in order to tackle global problems.

RT: The famous quote from Henry Kissinger – “Who do I call when I want to speak to Europe?” Once the Lisbon Treaty is in effect, what would be the answer to the question?

JS: Up to today, I received calls and emails (the phone is not the only way of communication). In the future it will be the president of the Council, it will be the foreign minister – the new person to substitute me. But like in any government, there are issues for which you would call the minister of trade or the minister of agriculture or the ministry of interior for matters of terrorism for instance. So the structure of government today is more complex than it was 20 years ago, but just like in your government, there's someone who has the last phone.

RT: How will the changes influence the relationship between Russia and Europe?

JS: The relationship will be facilitated, if the leaders want to do it. It is a question of political will. But the mechanisms in place will facilitate when there is the political will to do it better. After the meeting today, I have the feeling that it's the wish of Russia to have the political will and I have no doubt that it is the will of the EU to have a solid deep relationship with an important neighbor.

RT: Why does it seem that it doesn't take much for the Russia-EU relationship to go from good to bad so quickly?

JS: The fundamentals are there. We are neighbors and we cannot change the geography. We are obliged to have good relations. We are not only neighbors, we are strategic partners. We are important powers, both necessary to solve the problems of today – you name it, climate change, WTO, protectionism, all those things are there. You mentioned last year when we had a big crisis. The crisis was not only between Russia and the EU, it was also between Russia and the USA. But it has not prevented President Obama from having productive talks with President Medvedev. They recently had the best talks that they had for years. They just came back from a meeting in Singapore where they were talking about issues of the international agenda. And today they are here talking to the Europeans. But last year we did have a problem and it was very serious.

RT: What's your reaction to Medvedev's proposals for a new security structure in Europe?

JS: President Medvedev made a speech more than a year ago and put forward some ideas. We have been discussing these ideas since the very beginning. I remember a time in France, in Nice and many other places, in the framework mainly of the OSCE. So those ideas are on the level that they are on today. President Medvedev said he will put these ideas into a more formalized way. We will receive a document soon. We are ready and happy to discuss these ideas with him. We have a clear picture about European security which will have to come to terms with President Medvedev's ideas. Our ideas came out of the Helsinki act in the 1990s. This is a scheme that has three baskets – security, economy, and rule of law. We would like these baskets to continue to exist. But we understand that there is room to do it better – better in terms of hard security, better in economic cooperation and the rule of law.

RT: Do you still believe in the notion of democratic revolutions?

JS: I do believe in democracy, no doubt about that! But in democracy you get elected and the beauty of democracy is that when people get tired of you, you have to be ready to leave and this is what democracy is. But when people are tired of you and you are not ready to leave that is not a democracy. Sometimes it is difficult to have a democratically elected leader who is elected for more than ten years. There are some exceptions. But normally democracy is demanding that people express their wish for a leader and when they are tired, that they express their wish for them to leave and for someone else to take their place. This is one of the values of democracy. Not the only one, but one of them. What we do today is reform. Revolution is something that happened a long time back. A dramatic change in the structures of power. What we try to do is keep our eyes open for everybody, including for people in your country. You reform, you adapt, you try move with the time. When you have an economic crisis it would be stupid to apply the same recipes from when you don't. For that you have to make reforms, for instance in the financial structures. You have to put conditions on the banks so that the banks are only there for the function for which they are defined. They are there for the service of the people and they know that. You have to reform them, put rules and norms and that what we're trying to do. I call myself a reformer. I am not a revolutionary.

RT: Do you believe President Medvedev when he says that he wants to make Russia more democratic and do you think he has the necessary tools to do that?

JS: I read the article that he wrote in September and I listened to the speech. I think both are very interesting documents in which the leitmotif is the process of modernization. The need to bring the country in line with the time. I think the majority of the countries in Europe would like to modernize. We have to be in the process of modernization all the time, that is what keeps the countries going, otherwise you get sclerosis. So modernization, modernity adapt to the times. This is the fundamental role of the leader. And President Medvedev, from what I know, and I know him well, is a leader and he wants the best for his country.