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International conference calls for closer bilateral ties between Europe and Russia following the return of Vladimir Putin as President of the Russian Federation.
A panel of senior European and Russian politicians has said that the likely return of Vladimir Putin as President of the Russian Federation will ensure “positive stability”, at an international conference in Venice today. Despite recent protests in Moscow, and protests across the major cities of Russia expected in the lead up to the election, the panel said that Mr. Putin is still the most popular politician in Russia.
H.E. Hon. Franco Frattini, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, said: “There is still some mistrust in Europe of Russia. But we should be the best friend that Russia has… Russia and Europe are too small to work individually. We must work together to have a global impact…Despite some critics the EU will be ready to recognize (Vladimir) Putin as leader.
Stability in Russia is an added value… Under the leadership of Putin Russia has moved forward. Further economic and political reforms are needed, but substantial progress has been made, especially if we compare the situation in Russia to 15 years ago”.
“The upcoming elections will mark an important time in our shared history. It will be a great opportunity to strengthen co-operation between EU states and Russia… I am confident that Mr Putin, the future President of Russia, will give the green light to a new agreement of partnership and co-operation. We must consider Russia not just a strategic partner, but a loyal friend.”
Speaking after Franco Frattini, Jose Maria Aznar, former Prime Minister of Spain, commented: “Russia is key for the stability of Europe. Russia will emerge strengthened from the upcoming elections… I believe Mr. Putin still has a project for Russia.”
The panel argued that of all the Presidential candidates Mr. Putin would be the most likely to bring “increased bi-lateral relations between Europe and Russia”, calling on further co-operation in the areas of economic and trade relations, energy security, international political relations and international security.
H.R. Yitzah Herzog MP, former Minister of Social Welfare, Israel, said: “We all ask ourselves what Russia will be like after the election. The answer is clear – stability is essential for the continuation of reform. Russia should adjust its position on the current key issues related to the Middle East.”
The panel called for the pace of discussions on bilateral relations to quicken, concluding that given the Eurozone crisis and the relative economic and political stability in Russia the Russian Federation has become an increasingly important neighbor and partner to Europe.
Helen Teplitskaia, President of the American-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, stated: “The increase in Europe-Russia trade shows that the two are coming closer together… However, the ghost of the Cold War still prevails for many in Europe. The more Russia is pushed away from the West, the closer it gets to China.”
“Russia’s WTO accession will be beneficial for Europe,” she added.
Organized by prominent Italian organization “Fondazione Alcide De Gaspari”, with the support of a Russian think tank “The Institute of International Integration Studies”, the conference, entitled ‘The Russian Presidential elections: European expectations’, was held at Isola di San Servolo, Venice.
Speakers at the conference included H.E. Hon. Franco Frattini, former Minister of Foreign Affairs; Jose Maria Aznar, former Prime Minister of Spain; Marino Zorzato, Member of the Italian Parliament; Alexander Babakov, Member of the Russian State Duma and deputy Co-Chairman of the Duma Inter-parliamentary.