EU and Russia?

The European Council on Foreign Relations A crisis of values?: "People may become more assertive in demanding better from their political masters, emphazising what Angela Merkel termed in her meetings with the Russian government last month the “inseparable link between modernizing the economy and making civil society more democratic”."

Merkel's conclusion is the same as people in Sweden have when they think of the development of China, ie that human rights follow in the wake of a trade relations. However ECFR also feature a discussion of What Russia Thinks. Here one finds a corroboration of Leon Aron's, at the American Enterprise Institute, conclusion a while ago that Russia wants to build their own consensus and not imitate the EU. Democracy, EU style, is simply not the Russian cup of tea.

Another conclusion that can be drawn from this article is that the Russians view the balance of power between three different blocks, Russia, the EU and Turkey, all dissimilar. This might be good to now when considering an enlargement of the EU involving Turkey. They simply might not fit, like Russia, in the EU.

The institutions of the EU has taken a beating as of late. However, in comparison they are twice as popular among the people than is the government of Vladimir Putin, although Putin himself enjoys a 70% approval rate. Putin means Russia to the Russians. There is no politician in Europe with a similar approval rate and even Obama is down to 43%, again displaying how different Russia is to the EU. Russia is coming alive again now when the oil prize is over $70.

Thus the "dominant discourse on Russia among Western liberals focus on what Russia lacks -- be it Western-style democracy, the rule of law and property rights". The point again is that Russia is developing their own model. where these values from John Locke and others simply are not admired. Manouchehr Mottaki, the Iranian foreign minister, said the other day in an interview conducted by the German paper Der Spiegel that in Iran they think that the West is politically immature. They probably refer to their own 2,500 year old authoritarian rulings by various potentates. Russia has their own history of Czars.

The so called "Putin Consensus" is formed by the double failure of Soviet authoritarianism and the anarchic democracy of Yeltsin during the last 20 years. It is modernization supposedly based on innovation rather than on imitation. Russians want to free themselves from the West. Putin calls it "sovereign democracy". Putin decides and the people like it? So far the Putin Consensus is a negative phenomenon. Intellectuals can agree on what they don't want but not on how Russia would look like in the future.

I have earlier written about the developing relationship between Germany and Russia and the take home message of the cited article What Russia Thinks is probably that economic collaboration would work but there would not be a consensus on the political development. Russia will never become the Texas of EU.

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