Thursday, June 09, 2005

Concern in Moscow

There is obvious confusion inside the solid walls of the Kremlin in Moscow.

I spent the beginning of this week in a summerwarm Moscow discussing not the least the relationsship between Russia and the European Union. Since then - but that's another story - have I been to Oslo for June 7 and I'm now briefly in the United States.

The obvious confusion in the Kremlin I'm thinking of isn't primarily related to the state of Russia. It concerns the European Union. Time after time I'm asked where Europe is now headed and which are likely to be the consequences.

There is no Schadenfreude in these questions in Moscow. It's obvious that Russia feels the need for a European Union that can be a reliable and predictable actor and partner also in all of the questions that the EU and Russia has in common.

We are, said a Russian in authority, interested in a strong and coherent European Union. "We would like to have a partner, an interlocuteur and a neighbour."

Whether I was able to give them convincing answers to their questions is somewhat doubtful.

I tried to say that on practically all issues concerning the normal functioning of European integration things will continue to move forward. The existing treaties are OK - although not ideal - for the time being.

It's when it comes to enlargement that one immediately encounters a more problematic situation. And that could have disturbing consequences.

Universally, there was expressed the hope that the European Union gets its act together as soon as possible.

The concerns of Moscow probably reflects the concerns of the world. And one would hope that Europe will listen.