Never before has Russia commanded such a vast range of diplomatic opportunities as this year within Europe and outside it. Moscow is chairman in the G8 group and the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, simultaneously.
This Thursday it is hosting its 17th summit with the European Union. EuroNews discussed cooperation and Russia’s view on current problems with Russia’s ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov.
EuroNews: Energy security will probably be the summit’s main theme. Russia’s Gazprom recently said it might seek other markets if the EU prevents the Russian gas monopoly from gaining downstream access to the European energy market. Many EU-members perceived this as blackmail.
Chizhov: I think the meaning of what was said is that the broader picture of energy supply in the world market has to be looked at.
There are countries today which provide the world market with energy, (including Russia) and there are countries which consume it.
It’s not only Europe, but also China – whose economy is growing at an enormous rate – and Japan, South Korea, India and the USA.
So, it’s not really correct to say that someone is blackmailing someone or trying to deprive them of something.
The energy market is not a vegetable market, where it is possible to bring vegetables to sell in the morning, and in the evening you have your money.
It is a sphere of the economy that requires enormous investments – long-term investments.
EN: Does it create discord in EU-Russia relations when their points of view differ on such important international problems as: Iran’s nuclear programme, Middle East negotiations with the Hamas government and the status of Kosovo – independent or not?
Chizhov: Let’s start with the Iranian nuclear programme. First of all, we do not have fundamental disagreements with the h;U on this question.
Furthermore, I can tell you, the “eurotroyka” co-ordinates its negotiating positions and tactics with the Russian side. We have the same strategic aims.
The main one is not to allow the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons to be undermined.
Now let’s talk about Hamas. Here, yes, we do have some differences. First of all, the EU considers «Hamas» as a terrorist organization. Russia doesn’t. And Russia is not alone in this. For instance, neither do the United Nations, Japan or Norway.
On Kosovo, the general position of the international community came to the conclusion that all sorts of variations are possible for the final status of this land.
A special contact group was created; Russia and several other European countries are part of this group. Independence is only one of the variants.
Another thing is that this regularization can be a positive precedent, or it could be negative.
If it is possible to create a kind of variation which gives Kosovo a maximum of autonomy without formally registering this as independence, it will be positive, I am sure.
This kind of way will be a positive example for other unrecognized territories, including those in the post-Soviet space.
If Kosovo gets independence, and this is then recognised by the international community, in this case we can talk about a negative precedent.
Because those who are talking about the uniqueness of Kosovo’s case lack sufficient arguments.
EN: Former Soviet republics which joined the EU in 2004 have claims against Russia, and Moscow has some counter-claims. Can these problems be resolved within the framework of EU-Russia relations?
Chizhov: The principal difference between their claims against Russia and Russia’s claims against them is that their claims are based in the past and Russia’s concern the present. This includes the position of the Russian-language minority in Latvia and Estonia. Can these problems be resolved within the Russia-EU framework? We really believe they can; The EU has political obligations.
EN: The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Russia and the EU finishes next year. Moscow is insisting on a new high-quality agreement.
Chizhov: Moscow would like to have what we call «the complete strategic partnership». This means “the full-frame format collaboration” – of course without any hint of Russian entry into the EU.
EN: This year Russia took up the chairmanship of the «G8» Group, and last week that of the Committee of Ministers at the Council of Europe.
Chizhov: In the “G8” group, the priorities of the Russian chairmanship are well known: energy security, the fight against infectious diseases and perfecting a system of education on a global scale.
As for the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Russia’s chairmanship will focus on the fight “For a united Europe, without dividing lines”.
This means we don’t want to transform the Council of Europe into an organization which is engaged only with the problems of non EU-countries.