RuBaltic.Ru has talked to Miguel Ángel MARTINEZ-MARTINEZ, the member of the European Parliament, the former President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe about the current situation in Europe.
- Dear Mr. Martinez-Martinez, today we can see that Europe is not unanimous in its view with regards to Russia. Some view it in the context of the Cold War, others seek partnership.How do You estimate EU-Russia relationships?
I have said repeatedly for 30 years that the process of building a united Europe may be done with Russia or without Russia. But it shouldn’t be done against Russia. This view can be projected to concrete points. For example, to solve the crisis in Ukraine the European Union may do that with Russia, which is easer, without Russia, which would be more difficult – but certainly not against Russia, because that way the crisis won’t be solved.
I believe that the European Union and Russian Federation are two very significant global actors in the international scene who happen to be brothers. And probably twin brothers, and even more – Siamese brothers. Therefore, it is in the interest of the European Union and Russia to behave as brothers that share reasons and values, and need to talk with each other, to criticize and understand each other, and to cooperate. By the way, this doesn’t mean that I have some sort of special sympathy towards the current Russian authorities.
I criticize conservative and far-right forces wherever they are, be it Russia, the UK or my own country, Spain. Yet, this can’t lead me to a position, where I see Russia as an enemy of the EU.
You may criticize a Siamese brother but you can’t have sanctions placed on him, because they are the sanctions that you will have to pose upon yourself as well.
- Are these attitudes and views towards Russia the most popular right now?
Unfortunately, what I see is that there is quite a conservative majority ruling in most of the European countries. And these conservative majorities exist in policies that tend to see Russia not as an indispensable brother but rather as a possible enemy. Whenever I meet friends from Russia, politicians and intellectuals, the problem is that I see a dramatically symmetric situation. More people in Russia now don’t regard the EU as a necessary ally but as a potential enemy. The problem is that the Soviet Russia has lived in a permanent confrontation with the West, and the West did the same with what was the Soviet Union. So this kind of symmetric visions and approaches exist today. We don’t seem able to overcome the hostilities of the Cold War. There are European leaders that can’t accept that we can’t bring forward our own project and can’t make the progress of our people if that is against Russians.
I don’t need an enemy in Russia in order to identify myself. My enemies are terrorists that attacked Paris recently.
- Do you think that cultivating the image of Russia as an enemy to some EU countries is fuelled by political and economical interests or ideology and sincere belief in the Russian threat?
You must realize that in terms of economic interests that ones who have economic power understand each other quite easily. They may confront but at the end of the game they come to same conclusions. It is wrong to believe that this is done out of financial interest. Oligarchs are working together and can’t live without each other. That’s pretty obvious.
The problem is that we have been historically listening every day, 24 hours a day, that the other was the enemy. It can’t disappear just like that. And the big effort must be implemented in order to make people understand that we need each other, and needing each other doesn’t mean that we can’t criticize one another.
- The main lobbyists of the Eastern Partnership are Poland and the Baltic states. Does that mean that the Eastern Partnership program right now is holding Russia back in Europe?
I consider myself a friend of the Baltic states. I was the President of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly when Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia became the members of the Council of Europe. I’ve been decorated by the presidents and the governments of the Baltic states as a friend. Now many of them seem to have changed their vision.
But as a friend it is my duty to tell them that their own interest is not to push the EU towards hostility against the Russian Federation. Among the privileges that the Baltic states have, especially Latvia and Estonia, is that the significant part of their population is Russian. They could have used that by playing an important role of a bridge between the EU and the Russian Federation.
This is what I’m advising them: when you become a bridge, you become relevant in the European Union. If you are a wall or a barrier, you won’t be relevant.
- So are they irrelevant right now?
In the European Union smaller countries usually have less influence than bigger countries. The results of that have to be for you to see, what can you bring in, that will be positive for all. Not negative to others. In my opinion, it is obvious that the Baltic states have a past that is, of course, not easy to digest. We are not naïve. But the construction of the European Union was precisely to show that you can’t be an enemy of the one you need. Spain has traditionally been an enemy of Portugal and France. While becoming united Europeans, members of the European Community, we understood that being enemies doesn’t bring positive things – this is also a European consensus. Traditional enemies, which are usually neighbors, have to become partners. This is not automatic. This is what you have to learn when you are a true associated member of the European Union.
The Baltic states could bring the knowledge of and experience with Russia to assist cooperation, and the EU would be grateful for that, but instead they bring hostility.
- Then why are they constantly and persistently promote the idea of the equation of Communism to Nazism?
This is nonsense. Nobody who has a bit of historical knowledge would agree with that. I have never been a communist myself. Even less I have been a Stalinist, of course! But how can one compare them? Communism is certainly a positive ideology that has been applied in very negative way very often, but Nazism is absolutely a monstrous ideology that has been applied in a coherent way. That’s a big difference. Someone can criticize Communism and say it was applied not with the values, qualities and the social progress that they planned to gain.
But no one can defend Nazism because it is a perverted ideology.
In a number of countries, including mine, there have been thousands and thousands of communists who gave their life, have been killed in defense of freedom and democracy. And no one can give me a name of a single Nazi who died for freedom and progress – I would even invite some of the so-called Ukrainian “patriots” to do that. These are two differences that you can’t even discuss. Putting them in a same basket is a tremendous historic mistake.