Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Conclusions of the EU/Russia summit

Delivered in Plenary - 16th June 2010

Madam President

Given Russia’s physical proximity to the EU and its trillion-dollar economy and huge natural resources, particularly gas, the EU’s strategic relationship with Russia is of vital importance. My group acknowledges that Russia has a key role to play internationally as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. In particular, Russia has an important part to play with regard to the situation in North Korea and, via the Quartet, in the Middle East process, and also in persuading Iran to desist from its nuclear weapons programme and in persuading Turkey to open its borders with Armenia.

In Ukraine, a country dear to my heart, the election of President Yanukovych has substantially improved the previously strained relations between Moscow and Kiev, but the controversial decision to extend Russia’s leases on its naval bases in the Crimea should not be take as a sign that Ukraine has rejected the European Union and returned fully into the arms of Mother Russia. In particular, we should repudiate the statement by Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, that Ukraine eventually joining the European Union is not in Russia’s vital national interest. President Yanukovych only won a narrow victory, and at least half of all Ukrainians support closer ties for their country with the European Union; we cannot simply walk away from our responsibility to respond positively to their aspirations.