March 2001

Is there a strategy towards Russia?

Has the European Union's strategy towards Russia been successful? The question is asked in an editorial in the regional daily, Turun Sanomat (8 March 2001). The leading article gets its inspiration from a new book by Arto Luukkanen about recent Russian political development. The book argues that neither the architects of Finnish foreign policy nor the EU have a strategy towards Russia.

Both Finland and the EU seem to put all their hopes on a process which brings Russia closer to "European values". Turun Sanomat implies in its editorial that supporting this process seems to be the beginning and the end of the EU's strategy towards Russia.

"One can, however, ask how successful this strategy has been. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has taken a big step towards a working democracy. A legal state is being built as well, although it will take time to be completed. When the young and energetic Vladimir Putin took over the reins in Russia and declared his belief in western values it seemed that the country had a good chance to move towards them.

"Recent developments, however, do not indicate that this is happening. Instead of widening democracy, Putin has aimed to increase the power of the central leadership and that of himsef. According to Luukkanen, Putin's aim is securocracy or the power of security officials. This process, which has been also felt by the country's press, is being unhesitatingly enforced throughout the country under Putin's leadership. Such developments can easily lead to dictatorship."

Turun Sanomat writes that Putin does not seem to be able to use his power for the benefit of his country and its people. Important reforms like the rebuilding of the country's infrastructure and the re-organising of land ownership are still waiting to happen. The paper also refers to the suffering of the Chechen people.

"Development in Putin's Russia does not seem to be going in the direction which both Finland's and the EU's Russian strategies would like to see happen. One wonders if it is not time for sharpening up the strategy."

See also:

From our archive:

The legacy of communism

30 January 2001

"No reason to change treaty with Russia"

16 January 2001

European security integration - the Nordic dimension

10 January 2001

Nordic countries seek to increase military cooperation with Russia

7 November 2000

Preparing for the Putin era

10 April 2000

Was Finnish media silenced by the Soviet Union?

February 1999

The North West in Russian regional politics

January 1999


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