Alexander Rahr: "Eastern Partnership countries will foucs both on the West and the East"
Today, Moscow hosted presentation of the book "2054: Putin's Code", written by famous German political scientist, member of the Valdai Expert Club, Alexander Rahr. Even before its release in Russia it managed to become a bestseller in Germany. After presentation, “Vestnik Kavkaza” asked author several questions about prospects of the European project “Eastern Partnership”, which involves Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
- France sent two documents to Brussels, dated October 2019 and January 2020, wanting to "protect" members of the Eastern Partnership "against the illusions". Paris believes that the Eastern Partnership program is based on economic and political cooperation, but excludes "any prospects or mechanisms for integration or accession to the EU." What do you think about this position?
- French president understands one absolutely natural thing - future Europe cannot be built as opponent of Russia or without Russia; it must develop in cooperation with Russia. That's why he repeats wise statement of one of his predecessors, Charles de Gaulle, who saw a larger Russia - from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.
I hope other European leaders will change their position on this issue as well. Although Emmanuel Macron has already said in an interview that his point of view is unlikely to find support in Europe, especially in Eastern European countries.
This has already happened before. Let's remember the Iraq war, the years when France, Germany and Russia opposed American intervention, and "new Europeans" sided with the Americans. That's what divided Europe.
- Should we expect to see another split?
- Macron will develop his idea, but he will do it carefully enough to not divide Europe once again.
Today the EU faces challenges from the south - migration, climate change, water shortages, overpopulation of Africa and the Middle East. These are the issues that the EU must address. And Europeans will have to resolve these issues together with Russia, not while opposing Russia.
- The Eastern Partnership program participants have different positions. For example, Armenia expects financial support from the EU, while Azerbaijan, on the contrary, doesn't want any loans or financial assistance, but hopes for more efficient approach to a number of issues - including energy and trade - from the EU. How should the EU view this program?
- I think that the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, is right. He refuses to cooperate with the EU within the framework of Europe's "instructions".
I think that the European Union should change its position by removing the topic of confrontation with Russia from the very concept of the Eastern Partnership program. You can’t try to get certain post-Soviet countries out the Russian Federation's orbit, out of the Eurasian Union. It didn’t work out before. Neither with Georgia nor with Ukraine. On the contrary, new problems appeared, including the war in Ukraine. That's why the European Union must find new approaches, new concept. Moreover, the Eurasian Union, which didn't exist during the creation of the Eastern Partnership project, is currently getting stronger.
I think neither Armenia, nor Azerbaijan, nor Ukraine will be allowed to join the European Union and NATO. Right now these countries themselves must decide how they build relations with the EU. But Azerbaijan still needs to understand how to build relations with the EAEU. Armenia will seek beneficial position both here and there. When it comes to final analysis, Ukraine, as far as I can tell, will also be oriented toward both the West and the East.