July 14th 2016 Jurij Kofner, director of the Center for Eurasian Studies (CES) took part in the expert discussion “A new look on the cooperation between the EU and Russia” that took place at the Valdai International Discussion Club Moscow office. It was attended by senior researchers of the European Leadership Network (London).
A short introduction into the purpose of the discussion was given by Andrey Sushentsov, program director at the Valdai Club and Lukasz Kulesa, research director of the European Leadership Network. Joseph Dobbs, researcher of the European Leadership Network presented a SWOP analysis of EU – Russia relations. Despite his very Transatlantic bias, e.g. supporting TTIP and seeing NATO as s source of European security, rather than US hegemony, Mr. Dobbs supported the revitalization of EU-Russian cooperation, which is laudable.
Next Dmitry Suslov, program director of the Valdai International Discussion Club, presented his working paper “Without a common space: a new agenda for Russia-EU relations”. In partial, Mr. Suslov criticized Mr. Dobbs assumption for lack of causality, that a lack of EU-Russia cooperation would allegedly lead to a failure of Eurasian economic integration. Russia’s mission in Eurasia is not to be merely a transit raw bridge as his London colleagues suggested, but to be one of the pillars of economic and political stability in Greater Eurasia. Mr. Suslov’s main argument was that the dream of a strategic continental alliance (i.e. of a “Greater Europe”) is not feasible in the short and middle runs, but that EU-Russia/EAEU cooperation should be increased based on the inventarization of the strategic interests of both parties and on the continuation of common research projects.
After the panel session Jurij Kofner addressed his British colleagues with the question, why they don’t do research on the possibilities of EU-EAEU economic cooperation, which would lack the critical political component of EU-Russian relations. Mr. Dobbs of the European Leadership Network answered that he indeed supports the idea of both cooperation and common research of the feasibilities of such cooperation between EU and EAEU institutions.
However, answering another question from the floor the London expert dispelled the claim that anti-Russian sentiments in Europe were a result of American influence and that such sentiments would continue even without Transatlantic influence. In Mr. Kofner’s opinion this statement should be analyzed very critically by Eurasianist experts.