by: Judy Dempsey, Carnegie Europe, June 3, 2013
How blind the EU can be.
Despite worrying changes in Russia and Eastern Europe over the last six months, the EU’s policy toward both regions remains the same.
If the EU took its foreign relations seriously, the two developments should jolt it into adopting a very different Eastern strategy.
The fact sheets that EU officials drew up ahead of today’s EU-Russia summit in the southern Russian city of Yekaterinburg read nearly the same as the ones drafted six months ago for the last summit in Brussels. The statements prepared for José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, and Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, are also astonishingly similar.
Obviously, from the perspective of Brussels, little has changed in EU-Russia relations. In Russia, however, change has been disturbing.Vladislav Surkov, the Kremlin’s main ideologist and the man behind the concept of “sovereign democracy,” quit last month. Apparently, the special ideological system he built for President Vladimir Putin was not sufficient to withstand or anticipate the 2011 antiregime demonstrations. More importantly, Surkov was critical of repression. His view was that it is better to co-opt opponents than to lock them up. Putin held a different view.