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A Diplomatic Pipeline to the West: Economic, Political, and Security Developments in Russia

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About this Event

13 Jun 2011 @ 15:00

About the Speakers:

Two distinguished Finnish speakers will lead the Russia roundtable discussion. H.E. Nina Vaskunlahti is Director General of the Department for Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. She was previously Deputy Permanent Representative of Finland to the EU.

H.E. Vaskunlahti will be joined by distinguished foreign policy analyst H.E. Jaakko Iloniemi. He previously served as Chairman of the Delegation for National Defence and as Special Advisor to President Martti Ahtisaari. H.E. Iloniemi was awarded the Grand Cross of the White Rose of Finland in recognition of his foreign policy achievements.

About the Speech:

Two Finnish foreign policy experts addressed a roundtable at the IIEA on their close neighbour, Russia.

H.E. Nina Vaskunlahti and H.E. Jaako Iloniemi offered a unique portrait of modern Russia. They discussed how Russian actions will shape Europe and the world. H.E. Vaskunlahti detailed the economic aspects of Russian policy and their implications for the EU. H.E. Iloniemi provided a critical analysis of foreign policy and defence issues arising from Russia’s re-emergence on the global stage.

H.E. Vaskunlahti discussed the crucial trade ties between the EU and Russia before stating that the EU as a whole must build on those economic relations to work toward its goals of strengthening democracy and the rule of law. “If we share the same goal, it makes us a stronger negotiating partner with Russia,” she said. In terms of Russia’s view of the EU, Vaskunlahti thinks that Europe is sometimes overlooked, mentioning “Europe could be Russia’s best friend if it would allow us to be their best friend but it doesn’t always allow that to happen.”

She later highlighted the importance of what she labelled a “psychological-political issue” – the visa question. After the development of the Schengen area, she argued, Russia longed to be allowed the same privileges as its neighbours but this aspiration can only be achieved if Russia “put [its] own house in order and fulfilled the criteria.” H.E. Vaskunlahti concluded by reiterating what is needed from both sides – a more cohesive EU approach to negotiation with Russia and more willingness to cooperate on Russia’s part.

H.E. Jaakko Iloniemi gave a presentation on the evolution of Russian foreign and defence policy. He began by mentioning a number of factors that have contributed to Russia’s current policies – great power nostalgia, the lack of permanent allies or enemies, and a commodity-based economy. While he emphasised the strained relations between Russia and NATO following NATO enlargement, he believes that Russia’s cooperation with the European Union is at a high point. These recent interactions, however, have been conducted on a bilateral level based on national interests, e.g. Germany.

Iloniemi finished his speech by commenting that despite recent developments, “Russian policies – both domestic and international – are not yet clearly defined and it might take some time before… [Russia] is a democracy without adjectives.”

 

Theme: Foreign Policy and ESDP  Future of Europe 

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