MEPs call for EU strategy to promote democracy in RussiaEuropost
The EU must push back against Russia’s aggressive policies while laying groundwork for cooperation with a future democratic country, EP Foreign Affairs Committee said today in a new assessment of the direction of EU-Russia political relations, the EP press service reported.
In the assessment MEPs make clear the Parliament makes clear difference between the Russian people and President Vladimir Putin’s regime. The latter is considered a “stagnating authoritarian kleptocracy led by a president-for-life surrounded by a circle of oligarchs”.
“Russia can be a democracy. The EU has to work out a comprehensive set of principles, a strategy, based on the fundamental values the EU is promoting. Defending ‘Democracy First’ in EU relations with Russia is our first task. It is about ending domestic repression, returning the choice to the people, and freeing all political prisoners”, rapporteur Andrius Kubilius (EPP, LT) after the vote.
But according to MEPs, Russia can have a democratic future and the Council must adopt an EU strategy for a future democratic Russia, encompassing incentives and conditions to strengthen democratic domestic tendencies. The text was approved by 56 votes in favour, 9 against with 5 abstentions.
MEPs stressed that the EU must establish an alliance with the US and other like-minded partners to counterbalance the efforts of Russia and China to weaken democracy worldwide and destabilise the European political order. It should foresee sanctions, policies to counter illicit financial flows, and support for human rights activists.
Furthermore, the EU must continue to support the so-called “Eastern Partnership” countries and to promote European reforms and fundamental freedoms in order to Russia’s aggression and influence over the EU’s eastern neighbourhood. Such efforts should also serve to encourage Russians to support democracy.
The text further states that the EU needs to cut its dependency on Russian gas and oil and other raw materials, at least while President Putin is in power. The European Green Deal and the boosting of new resources will play a crucial geopolitical role in this regard.
MEPs also said the EU must build its capacity to expose and stop the flows of dirty money from Russia, as well as to expose the resources and financial assets of the Russian regime’s autocrats and oligarchs hidden in the EU Member States.
Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs concluded that the EU must be prepared to withhold recognition of the Russian parliament, if the 2021 parliamentary elections are considered to have been conducted in violation of democratic principles and international law.