Manuel Barroso, the president of the EC, has told an audience in Moscow today that Russia was not informed of the Eurogroup decision to tax depositors in Cyprus "because the governments of Europe were not informed."
Manuel Barroso, the president of the EC, has told an audience in Moscow today that Russia was not informed of the Eurogroup decision to tax depositors in Cyprus “because the governments of Europe were not informed.”
Barroso made the astonishing statement in his speech to the Russia-European
Union – Potential for Partnership conference: “Moving into a Partnership of Choice”.
The full text of his speech follows:
Prime Minister Medvedev, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all I want to thank and congratulate the Russian International Affairs Council and Igor Ivanov for organizing this conference at such a timely moment.
It is a pleasure and an honour to be here with such a distinguished audience. I recognise many friends, I cannot mention all of them, but some of them with whom I have been working very closely from Javier Solana to Wolfgang Schüssel to François Fillon, to Paavo Lipponen, to Franco Frattini, and some others I see in the audience. Some of you that have done so much over the years for the process of partnership and friendship between the European Union and Russia.
The world is indeed changing fast. I believe we should not take old partnerships for granted and we need to nurture all our partnerships. For the strategic partnership between Europe and Russia this is a double challenge, because our relationship is simultaneously centuries old and very recent, with a fresh restart just a couple of decades ago. And some of the protagonists are here today. This
relationship cannot be taken for granted and needs constant nurturing. It is a relation that needs to be thought, understood, recreated and I can think of no better place to think, understand and recreate this very important partnership than here in the Russian International Affairs Council in your company and of course in the company of Prime Minister Medvedev.
Let me start with a simple premise: there is no doubt that Russia and the European Union are deeply intertwined. We share a continent, a history, a rich and diverse cultural heritage forged throughout the centuries.
European and Russian intellectual and creative life from science to philosophy, from arts to music and literature have been enriching and influencing each other to the point of being one and the same. Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov are part of the European collective memory. Mayakovsky and Malevich were influenced by and have influenced the European avant-garde movement. I also remember for instance the extraordinary correspondence between Rainer Maria Rilke, Boris Pasternak, Marina Tsvetaeva, which is now common part of our shared literary history.
And on this very day we celebrate the birth of Modest Mussorgsky, 174 years ago. It is impossible to forget his strong influence on Debussy, Berg, Poulenc. His major work, Boris Godunov is an illustration of “our” cultural melting pot, with a skilful balance between Russian music identity and classical Western conventions, giving a new life to a story written by Pushkin and with inspiration of Shakespeare and Karamzin.
Even more importantly, these ties are not just history or culture; they are strongly entrenched in today’s life. They are alive in strong human bonds, in the hearts and minds of our people, in the warmth of many family unions, in the enthusiasm of young students, workers or tourists discovering each other’s countries and ways of life; exchanging experiences, opening up to new perspectives. And even in the years when the difference of political regimes and an iron curtain drove us apart, the voices of Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov, the poetry of Anna Akhmatova, the music of Shostakovich and Stravinsky, the dance of Rudolf Nureyev, the cinema of Tarkovsky reminded us that what unites us is much, much deeper than what separated us.
In short, European history and civilization would be incomplete without Russia. Yes, Russia is a European country and Russian history and civilization cannot be dissociated from Europe and the cross fertilization that happened over the centuries.
But our close relationship is not just based on our long and solid bonds of history,
culture and kinship, crucial though they are. Over the years and in particular after the developments in Russia in the 90s, there is a hard and sustained effort to build a wideranging partnership for the sake of greater prosperity, predictability and security for the European Union and Russia, and for the world and also for the region at large.
Economic bonds are often regarded, and rightly so, as one of the most important factors to bring people and nations together, to lay sound foundations for broader and strengthened relations and improve stability over-time. The European Union in itself is indeed a case in point!
And here, the European Union and Russia have a particularly impressive story to tell. Trade is really part of the heartbeat of our relationship. The European Union is by far Russia’s biggest overall trade partner. And Russia is the European Union’s third largest trade partner. In 2012 alone the total volume of trade between the European Union and Russia reached 336 billion euro and around 75 % of foreign direct investment in Russia is of European origin. In 2010 the European Union stock of foreign direct investment in Russia amounted to 120 billion euros. More than China and India combined!
And we should not forget either that the European Union is the first customer of the main Russian export: energy. 80% of all Russian oil exports; 70% of all Russian gas exports; 50% of all Russian coal exports go to the European Union.
This shows that history and kinship have been underpinned by a solid and structured relation that has a direct bearing in our people’s prosperity and well-being.