WHAT FUTURE FOR THE RELATIONS
BEWTEEN THE EUROPEAN UNION AND THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION?
Points of view from Southeast Europe
16 November 2015
Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKO), Sky Lounge, Wiedner Hauptstraße 63, Vienna
The Ukrainian Crisis is a watershed in the relations between the European Union (EU) and the Russian Federation. It sheds light –with dramatic consequences- on the long-standing absence of concerted strategy between the two powers, regarding their respective relations and their responsibility towards European security. What is at stake therein is yet essential: the stability of the continent; its economic development; and the deepening of cooperation schemes with Central and East European states and Southeast Europe.
The EU and the Russian Federation cannot underestimate the importance of improving their political dialogue at the highest level. In the today’s context, the challenge is to re-build confidence between the two powers so as to defuse the spreading of security issues and engage in de-escalation. Meanwhile, it is high time to start reflecting on the relations the EU and the Russian Federation wish to develop in economic and energy matters. And to discuss constructively, at the multilateral level, the issues that may arise from the intersection of the regional policies pursued by both in Eastern Europe.
It is in order to reflect on these issues that the Austro-French Centre for Rapprochement in Europe, an inter-governmental organisation promoting stability and economic development in Europe, organised a conference in Vienna in November 2015. Its purpose was to stimulate a balanced reflection on the future of the relations between the EU and the Russian Federation; to underline the necessity to re-establish dialogue; and to identify the possible obstacles as well as numerous potentialities in those areas.
The conference emphasised Southeast European perspectives on this issue and their possible contribution to a rapprochement between the EU and the Russian Federation. Southeast European states are very close to the EU –they strive for membership. But they also maintain particular relations with the Russian Federation. The conference nourished the debate on Russo-European relations by fostering a high-level exchange of views between officials from France, Austria, the Russian Federation, the EU and Southeast European states. Internationally renowned experts and key economic agents also presented their views.
The conference was organised by the Austro-French Centre for Rapprochement in Europe together the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI), Aussenwirtschaft Austria of the Federal Austrian Economic Chamber (WKO) and the Austrian Society for Foreign Policy and the United Nations (ÖGAVN) as well as in collaboration with the French and Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.