Sunday

22nd May 2022

New EU-Russia treaty to deepen security and energy ties

  • Moscow: the EU and Russia need a new treaty for a new era (Photo: Wikipedia)

A new EU-Russia treaty in 2007 is set to be strong on joint crisis management, with EU reliance on Russian energy to grow.

"We might be actually acting side by side in far away places, like Sudan, under UN auspices," Russian ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, said in an interview with EUobserver on Thursday (9 March).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"Whether one likes it or not, in the mid-term perspective, that is in the next 15 to 30 years, the percentage of EU demand covered by supplies from Russia will grow," he indicated.

Mr Chizhov dubbed the new legal pact a "Strategic Partnership Treaty (SPT)" envisaging a slim framework document backed up by action-oriented instruments.

"The issue at stake is not a new energy treaty...but a new treaty that would summarise Russia-EU relations and this can replace the existing Partnership and Cooperation Agreement [PCA]."

The PCA was drafted in the 1980s between the then European Community and Soviet Union; it came into force in 1997 and will expire in December 2007.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso will fly to Moscow on 17 March to kick-start the treaty talks with negotiations beginning "in earnest" in autumn.

"The commission doesn't have a mandate to negotiate a new agreement. We understand that the intention is to draft such a mandate and present it to [member states] before the summer break," Mr Chizhov said.

Ukraine gas crisis boosts pipeline plans

The Ukraine gas crisis in January reinforced Russia's plans to build a Baltic Sea gas pipeline to Germany as well as Austria's push to build the Nabucco gas pipeline to the Caspian basin, the ambassador indicated.

"The silver lining behind this Ukrainian hiccup is that today nobody questions the need for additional pipelines, including the North European gas pipeline."

Poland still hates the Baltic pipeline, he explained "but today they are the only ones. There are countries that initially hated the idea but now they hate the idea of being left out of it."

Western diplomats believe Nabucco will give the EU leverage in gas talks with Russia, yielding a new supply route out of Gazprom’s hands.

But "at least some" of the gas flowing through Nabucco will be Russian, Mr Chizhov predicted, adding "If one wants to play one country against another in terms of gas supplies that does not increase stability, that does not increase energy security."

"It [the EU] is free to choose cheap energy from Russia or more expensive energy from elsewhere," he said.

Joint missions in Nagorno-Karabakh

EU and Russian soldiers could also do peacekeeping work in the breakaway Azerbaijan region of Nagorno-Karabakh in line with the new crisis management agenda, Mr Chizhov indicated.

"It could only be a solution providing post-solution peacekeeping, not classic peacekeeping. Because neither the EU nor Russia want to get involved until there is an agreement on the ground."

Russia has already sent a few policemen to join the EU police mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina and offered helicopters to help put out French forest fires in 2005.

But it would be difficult for Russia to work with the EU on the Bosnian model, with Russia as a "junior partner," in post-Soviet countries, Mr Chizhov said.

EU-Russian crisis work has also been frustrated by Brussels red tape in the past.

The Bosnian police agreement took one year to write and the last two months were spent in "endless discussions" on whether it should be in English only or English and Russian.

"Our partners on the EU side of the table said, since Russian is not an official language of the EU, you can't have it. This is stupid."

Russian helicopters were ready to take off in 24 hours to help France but it took seven days to get overflight clearance from EU transit states.

"In the meantime all the forests burned down," the ambassador indicated. "Today the EU lacks a coordinated system of civilian emergency response."

EU brightness versus Russian darkness

Some aspects of EU diplomacy are unhelpful in managing relations between the two powers in the post-Soviet region, Mr Chizhov remarked.

"There are people unfortunately here [in Brussels] who want to pose artificial dilemmas facing these countries," he said. "The dilemma being - it's either forward to the bright future with the EU or backwards into the darkness with Russia."

"We are being pragmatic, we understand that whatever any of these countries wishes is not going to happen today or tomorrow or in the foreseeable future," the diplomat stated.

"But they are free to express their wishes, to dream about their future EU membership."

Barroso seeks more access to Russian energy

The European Union will bring its plans for a common energy policy to Moscow on Friday as Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso will meet President Vladimir Putin ahead of a G8 energy ministers meeting on energy security.

EU states warn of looming food-price crisis

Prices of cereals, fertilisers, and oilseed have shot up drastically in several European markets due to Russia's war on Ukraine, prompting some member states to seek EU aid.

EU plans to jointly invest in defence capabilities

EU countries need to refill stockpiles after several member states supplied weapons to Ukraine in its fight with Russia, and to phase out existing Soviet-era weapons systems, and reinforce air defence.

UK and EU edge closer to trade war over Northern Ireland

The EU warning comes after the UK government escalated the conflict over the Northern Ireland protocol — a set of post-Brexit trade rules — by saying it will unilaterally pass a law to change the EU-UK trade treaty.

Podcast

Ultraconservatives in Putin's shadow

Vladimir Putin's Ukraine war has threatened to be a public relations disaster for hard-right gatherings like the Conservative Political Action Conference — now meeting in Budapest and featuring Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, who remains highly-cordial with the Kremlin.

Opinion

Will 'Putin's Nato' follow Warsaw Pact into obscurity?

Valdimir Putin's equivalent to Nato — the Collective Security Treaty Organization of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Belarus — is convening in Moscow next week to give cover that Russia is not alone in its war against Ukraine.

News in Brief

  1. UK to send 'hundreds' of migrants to Rwanda each year
  2. Norwegian knife attacks were domestic dispute
  3. Sweden hits back at Turkey's 'disinformation' in Nato bid
  4. Germany's Schröder gives up one of two Russia jobs
  5. G7 countries pledge €18bn in financial aid for Ukraine
  6. Italian unions strike in protest over military aid for Ukraine
  7. Russia cuts gas supply to Finland
  8. Half of Gazprom's clients have opened rouble accounts

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. What Europe still needs to do to save its bees
  2. Remembering Falcone: How Italy almost became a narco-state
  3. Economic worries and Hungary on the spot Next WEEK
  4. MEPs urge sanctioning the likes of ex-chancellor Schröder
  5. MEPs call for a more forceful EU response to Kremlin gas cut
  6. Catalan leader slams Pegasus use: 'Perhaps I'm still spied on'
  7. More EU teams needed to prosecute Ukraine war crimes
  8. French EU presidency struggling on asylum reforms

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us