The initiative of President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker to establish closer contacts between the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union is a canny move. Through the Eurasian Economic Union Europe is going to resume its trade and economic contacts with Russia, Chairman of the Board of Russia’s Defense and Foreign Policy Council, Chief Editor of Russia in Global Politics magazine Fyodor Lukyanov said in an interview to EADaily.
In a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin a few days ago, Juncker suggested establishing closer relations between the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union. "The decision on the circumstances in which to proceed along this path is in the hands of the member states of the European Union and should in particular be synchronized with the implementing of the Minsk agreements," Juncker said in his letter.
The Russian President’s Spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to give the details of the letter. He just said that it was not a new idea. “We have long tried to promote it as this is crucial for our trade and economic relations,” he said.
According to Lukyanov, the idea was first mentioned last year. “This is a canny move: on the one hand, it will give Europe a chance to resume its contacts with Russia, on the other, it is not about Russia. Russia is the key player in the Eurasian Economic Union but it is not the only one to decide there. So, on the one hand, this is a move to get closer with Russia, but, on the other, this is an attempt to bypass it a bit,” the expert said.
He does not expect this process to be quick. “When Russia first suggested this two-three years ago, China was not as active in Eurasia as it is today. Now we have much more interesting plans – like harmonizing our Eurasian economic project with China’s Silk Road initiative. Today we have other priorities, but this does not mean that we are not going to develop ties between the Eurasian Economic Union and the European Union. Our authorities have always said that our goal is large-scale cooperation over an area from Lisbon to Shanghai. So, now we just need time to see how this all will work,” Lukyanov said.
He is not surprised to see such an initiative coming from Europe. “The ‘sanction-cooperation’ dialectics is becoming a norm today. Universal political rules are giving way to economic and geopolitical alliances. Russia and the United States seek leading roles here. So, they will use sanctions and cooperation as restrictive measures against one another. Today’s world politically is disintegrated and competitive but economically it is interdependent,” Lukyanov said.