Addressing the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on Wednesday, the Russian President Vladimir Putin signalled that the Kremlin is ready to enhance ties with the European Union.
Echoing the words of former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Putin said that “of course, Western Europe and Russia must be together,” if the goal is for “European culture to survive and remain a centre of world civilisation in the future, keeping in mind the challenges and trends underlying the world civilisation.”
Citing the current “not normal situation” which further deteriorates by the Coronavirus pandemic, Putin stressed the need to “return to a positive agenda” and to “build up trade and economic cooperation.” In a rather pro-European stance, the Russian leader also praised all the benefits that could arise from an enhanced partnership, labelling the two sides as “absolutely natural partners.”
To actualise this goal, Putin stressed that the two sides need to leave behind the “phobias of the past” and to adopt a forward-looking approach, where the problems “inherited from past centuries” will not be used “in internal political processes.”
Putin’s words came less than a week after Europe’s lawmakers called for tougher sanctions on Russian individuals and legal entities involved in the decision to imprison Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Instead of enhancing cooperation with Moscow, MEPs supported that attention should be given on strengthening transatlantic unity “in protecting democracy and fundamental values against authoritarian regimes.”