Interfax: Rogozin: no alternative to political, economic partnership with Europe

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BRUSSELS. Nov 13 (Interfax) – Russia is eager to have the closest relationship with the European Union, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said at the Egmont Royal Institute for International Relations in Brussels on Tuesday.
“This is our closest partner. More than 50% of our trade is with the European Union,” Rogozin said.

“There is no alternative to political and economic relations” with Europe, the deputy prime minister argued.

In his opinion, the EU and Moscow “should be thorough, careful and attentive to one another” in building this strategic relationship.

“They should also have detailed consultations on possible consequences of unilateral steps taken on the huge territory, which used to be called the Soviet Union and which was divided into several parts along administrative borders, which were promoted to state borders of newly founded states,” the deputy prime minister said.

Russia would be extremely interested in and grateful for “keeping economic issues the way they are, without being turned into a political headache of states, which are still establishing their statehood,” he said.

“One has to be much more pragmatic. It was you who taught us to be pragmatic and rely on the economy. We listened to you and relied on the economy. Now we can see that the EU policy sometimes resembles left-wing ideas – the formation of the “United States of Europe” at any cost,” the deputy prime minister said.

“You are living through an economic crisis. You are faced with the problem of zero growth and economic stagnation. Yet in spite of your stagnation you are putting money into your “money box” states, which are not just hit by an economic crisis but have even reached the brink of default,” Rogozin said, describing the EU Eastern Partnership plans.

He compared the situation to that of the Soviet Union, which sacrificed its economy to ideology.

Rogozin said he was perplexed with the “[EU’s] radical measures as regards not only the neighbors of Russia but also peoples who had shared the same destiny with it for centuries.” He said he could not understand why “they should be cut off from economic, industrial and cooperation bonds, have their economies destroyed and then be granted [European] membership.”

The deputy prime minister urged his European colleagues “to be more careful about the future of Europe and the European Union.”

Such issues should not be resolved in a way that contradicts the opinion of Moscow, but should be discussed openly and honestly, he said.

“I do not see any dialogue so far. We are witnessing a behind-the-scenes struggle, covert negotiations behind Russia’s back on ways to use the Eastern Partnership not as a partnership but actually as a way to act by the well-known “divide and conquer” formula. Will it lead to the unity of Europe? I very much doubt that,” Rogozin said.