Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2007-05-09-Speech-3-050"

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". Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, while I do think Mr Daul was trying to do the right thing, it has to be said that he did, quite simply, miss the mark. The question is how one is to maintain a relationship with a political power such as Russia, which, in essence, understands all relationships as no more than means to an end. Russia may no longer be the Soviet Union, but it does, in many areas, want to have the same policies as did the Soviet Union; it wants to play power politics – not, however, the politics of military power, but of economic power, and one of the means it uses to do this is energy supplies. That does not mean that we should not enter into political relationships with Russia; what it does mean, and nothing else, is that we should not take things as being other than they actually are. Political relations with Russia through the Commission and the Council are not a dialogue. Dialogue is what happens when people can talk to one another, when they can travel, when there is interchange between civil societies. Political structures do not engage in dialogue; they conduct political negotiations, and the two must not be confused. Mr Watson, I think, chose to adopt the right approach. Is there any chance of us in the European Union, given Russia’s present power politics, which is motivated only by Russia’s interests – by which I do not mean the interests of the country itself, but those of the power structure, of the Putin system, and of the economic system – being able to send out some signal that that is not the sort of politics that we want? That is difficult. I do not claim to have any solutions to hand, but what is clear is that, if a former German Chancellor can assert that Russia is a democracy without spot or blemish, that exemplifies the feeble-mindedness that is weakening our policy so much, for we are not in a position to see what sort of system is in control in Russia. We have to have political relations with Russia or with Saudi Arabia. No politician with any sanity would claim that Saudi Arabia was a faultless democracy in which you could end up having only one hand chopped off if you had transgressed in some way, in contrast to having two hands chopped off in other fundamentalist Islamic states. What that means is that we will be able to achieve a proper relationship with Russia only as and when we, here in this House, have managed to gain a proper appreciation of Russia, of its power politics and of Putin’s authoritarian policies. Only then will we be able to do the right thing, and that does not mean that we should not negotiate; what it does mean is that we and the Russians are not on friendly terms. I do not want political friendship with an authoritarian and dictatorial leadership such as Putin’s. We can and must maintain political relations with Russia, but the relationship cannot be one of friendship, with us saying, ‘OK, Putin, you can carry on doing the same things to your people.’ That is where we have to say ‘no!’"@en1

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