With the current geopolitical developments and the new processes of re-configuration, seriously affecting the landscape of economic cooperation, the basic question many researchers and observers are monitoring is to understand why Russia after the Soviet collapse aspired to transform into an European country. Russia wanted to develop and extend Europe down to the Pacific. In linguistics, phrases appeared in the direction, such as “developing solid economic cooperation from Lisbon to Vladivostok” and transform the entire vast region into European.
On different occasions, Kremlin has held several exclusive interactive meetings with European corporate business people. Those meetings raised various issues of fundamental importance for broadening economic cooperation. Throughout the 2000 to 2010, and at one point, Russian and EU business-people called on the Russian and EU authorities to resolve the issue of Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and begin work on a new basic agreement. President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, took part in the discussions.
Interesting and worthy to note that during his presidency, Dmitry Medvedev sent his greetings to the participants in the second European-Russian Forum held on December 8, 2008. The message read in part: “This big event has an important part to play in resolving issues concerning Russia and Europe. I am sure that this forum will help to bring Russia and Europe closer together and create opportunities for promising new business and humanitarian projects.”
Participants in the forum, which took place in Brussels, included associations of Russians living abroad, Russian public organisations, and also representatives of the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Council. The forum’s theme was ‘The European Union and Russia: New Challenges’.
As far back on November 24, 2006, President Vladimir Putin and the European Union leadership held an extensive meeting with participation of the members of the Russia-EU Business Cooperation Council. Taking part in the meeting with Russian and EU business community leaders were Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, and Javier Solana, secretary general of the EU Council and EU high representative for the common foreign and security policy.
The meeting between Putin, the European Union leadership and the business leaders took place behind closed doors just before the start of the Russia-European Union summit. The Russia-EU Business Cooperation Council was created in October 2005 and brings together the Russian and EU business leaders most interested in developing economic relations between Russia and the EU.
The Business Cooperation Council acts as a coordinator for practical action to develop new forms and vectors for cooperation between Russian and European business-people. The Council sets the objective of ensuring that the business community plays an active part in work to draft a new basic agreement between Russia and the European Union to replace the current partnership and cooperation agreement that expired in 2007.
The Council is responsible for coordinating work by industry and business associations to implement the project for creating a common economic space between Russia and the EU and advancing major forward-looking projects that can have a considerable impact on the structure and level of economic relations between Russia and the European Union.
Projects of this kind include cooperation in the energy sector, joint operation of satellite communications and navigation systems and the formation of mechanisms for cooperating in sectors such as aviation, car making, metals production, energy and machine building.
The Business Cooperation Council is a ‘union of equals’ and has no strong link to any one organisation. The principles on which the Council is formed enable it to expand and involve interested parties in its work. At that time, the Council was co-chaired by Anatoly Chubais, chairman of the board of RAO Unified Energy Systems, for Russia, and by Jukka Harmala, head of Finnish company Stora Enso, for Finland.
Back in 2015, Vladimir Putin took part in the plenary session of the Delovaya Rossiya celebrating the 10th year Russian Entrepreneurs’ Day, praised European business presence in the Russian Federation.
Precisely that year on May 26, Putin said “Entrepreneurship has come to be considered one of the most important factors of Russia’s confident development. We clearly need to ensure the influx of the largest possible number of self-motivated business-minded people to production companies, people who are ready to take on responsibility for both the work of their companies and their employees. Society and the state are interested in the appearance of a large number of successful, promising foreign companies. Their creation will become a worthy response to the challenges that are currently facing the Russian economy.”
Nevertheless, it would be important to note that during these years both Medvedev and Putin spoke at the plenary session of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. In these platform, Medvedev and Putin have paid special focus on European businesses compared to Asian counterparts. In fact, Africa was completely not known those earliest formative years of SPIEF.
But today, with the global changes and the war on Ukraine that necessitated the imposition of stringent sanctions, Russia has gunned down the post-Soviet dream of becoming purely European. What remains in this emerging new world, despite the sharp differences among them Russia might only and eventually become Greater Eurasian.
We are therefore urging the individual nations of the world to embrace negotiations on delicate issues rather than the confrontational approach in order to foster global peace and progress.