Discussion Papers / Zentrum für internationale Entwicklungs- und Umweltforschung 30
Over the years Russia has become one of the most important partners of the European Union. Due to this fact a more democratic and modern Russia would have great benefits for the EU and might contribute to the stabilization of the European continent. But existing problems like terrorism, organized crime and environmental pollution are central challenges for the relationship and their solution demands for intensive cross-border cooperation. Therefore a clear strategy is needed in order to establish a successful cooperation. What strategy have the European politicians pursued and which influence have their plans exerted on the actual policy of the European Union? The European Union clearly accentuated the meaning of common values for the relationship towards the Russian Federation in the early and fundamental documents. However, it becomes more and more evident that in day-to-day policy there is a tendency to tolerate even substantial violations of the norms which originate from the concept of common values. One of the main causes for this behaviour is the strong economic interest of the EU towards Russia. For example, the Russian Federation supplies the EU with most of its energy resources, such as gas and oil. On the other hand the EU is the major trading partner of the Russian Federation. The notion of the common shared values is based – as stated in the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) and in the subsequent documents – on the principles of the Helsinki Final Act and the Charter of Paris. Because such principles are easily stated in a document their impact on the real policy has to be called into question and must be examined further in this essay.