March 16th, 2005

Министр иностранных дел Финляндии - о России и ЕС

The Orange Revolution of Ukraine has also created tensions in relations between the EU and Russia. Support for democracy in Ukraine is not targeted against Russia. The development of relations between Ukraine and Russia is a major European issue. Like my colleague Joschka Fischer, I am convinced that a democratic Ukraine is in the interest of Russia, too.

The strategic partnership between the EU and Russia is one of the most important achievements of the new Europe. It must not be exposed to danger. Here too the views of Finland and Germany coincide. The EU-Russian border is today also the kind of ”small” border to which Professor Schlögel referred. It is no longer an insurmountable barrier between two different ideological systems, but a border being crossed by a steadily growing flow of goods and people.

The increasing interdependence between the EU and Russia is related to economy and transportation. Positive interdependence is a very European concept and illustrates the post-war West European integration process. It could also be called the Rotterdam syndrome, reflecting the fact that Rotterdam, not Hamburg, is the biggest port of Germany. Europe’s dependence on gas imports from Russia and Russia’s dependence on the markets and traffic connections across the Baltic Sea are factors that call for cooperation, which will be the cornerstone of new Europe.

The WTO negotiations concerning Russia and Ukraine are approaching the final phase. What will be the next step in the two countries’ process of integration into the European and global economies? At the European level, the most natural solution would be a free trade agreement, which is already recorded in the Partnership and Cooperation Agreements, provided that the terms for the start of the negotiations are met. In business circles this could contribute to improved predictability concerning trade and investments. It would also strengthen the market economy structures of Russia and Ukraine - and lay the foundation for improving the prosperity of their citizens.