Vladimir Chizhov: the EU has accumulated a critical mass for the restoration of relations with Russia

Vladimir Chizhov: the EU has accumulated a critical mass for the restoration of relations with Russia

About the profession of a diplomat, many-sided work in the European Union and the sticks in the wheels of European colleagues in an interview with Russia’s permanent representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov.

– Tell us about the peculiarities of Russia’s Ambassador to the European Union. What is most challenging about your job?

– If to talk in General about the diplomatic profession, I personally find it the most interesting on our planet. Maybe this will sound immodest, but for many years in this field I never thought about any alternative.

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All sanctions of the West against Russia

Referring more specifically to the work here in Brussels, it has its own specifics. The Russian mission to the European Union is the largest in Europe Russian diplomatic mission, and, paradoxical as it may sound on the background of my first thesis, my position is not quite diplomatic. It is necessary to engage not only political subjects, but also a wide range of economic and other issues, and quite specific relating, for example, the security of civil aviation, the spread of infectious diseases, anti-dumping duties on aluminum foil. Of course, and visa issues, although not a pure consular. In addition, of course, conduct the study, monitoring and analysis of everything that is happening in the EU. I’d say the EU is such a complex design, scope of effort which is quite wide.

– That is, the workload is very large?

– Of course. Especially now, when there are additional difficulties because known anti-Russian measures adopted by the EU. But if someone thinks that as a result of these freezes we have here was less work, he is mistaken. Work only increased.

– The next question just relates to anti-Russian sanctions. According to the Italian Minister of foreign Affairs, “in June for a possible revision or partial lifting of sanctions”. In addition, this is evidenced by the recent visit of the Minister of trade of France in the Russian Federation. He expressed the hope that this summer the sanctions against Russia will be canceled. Can words move into action?

– I’m not going to guess when any decision on sanctions will be taken. The process of accumulation of a critical mass of opinion in favour of revision of the decisions which affect the EU itself, which cause considerable damage to the economy of the EU, and politics too.

The role of the EU in the international arena in isolation from Russia is looking more flawed and less noticeable than when the EU is working together with Russia. As an example I’ll mention last year’s agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, which was the result of many months of difficult negotiations involving Russia and other countries of the “six” (five permanent UN security Council members plus Germany – approx. ed.) and the European Union.

Where we work together, there is success. Where do inventions, it is the opposite. As it was, for example, last week in the European Parliament, where he invented a resolution on human rights violations in Crimea. In the end, took the strange resolution, where, incidentally, there is a call to the Executive structures of the EU in any case not to lift the sanctions. And what good will it become?

– What can turn to Europe’s migration crisis, does he, in your opinion, to undermine the Schengen agreement? As at the moment the system works effectively filter the flow of refugees to identify radical workers?

As for the fate of Schengen, there is no doubt that the current crisis is a serious test for the entire Schengen system. Speak out different recipes, ideas, some quite extravagant. For example – the geographical idea of “compression” of the Schengen area – that is, exclusion of the peripheral countries. There is a viewpoint that in General the agreement was originally incorrectly written, and should be rewritten.

I would add that the Schengen system is not only the agreement itself, but also a number of subsequent decisions. One of them is the so-called Dublin procedure, the meaning of which is that the issue of asylum is decided in the first country of entry. Amid today’s realities – from the Eastern Balkan route – it looks a little strange, because a refugee – whether from Syria, Iraq, it doesn’t matter where – from Turkey crosses to Greece. The territory of Greece, including the Islands, is already the Schengen area. After that they are crossing the country and heading, generally speaking, in Macedonia, which is neither an EU member nor a party to the Schengen agreement. For Macedonia is Serbia, and only then they fall in, say, Hungary, you have again come back into the Schengen zone.

In other words, migrants crossed this barrier several times. So in practice referred to the Dublin regulation is not working, and he currently has de-facto cancelled. Anything new to replace him has not yet been invented, but started to think.

– Is it now time to introduce the system of deportation, as suggested by some EU members?

Is this version already for some time been discussed. For a start, it was decided the preparation of a list of safe countries. For example, Morocco, Pakistan is their meant to recognize safe countries and, consequently, citizens of these countries to send back. But what will it look like in practice, it is difficult to say because the migrant people are smart and many of them on arrival in Europe the first thing to destroy all their documents and then claim to the status of refugees, calling themselves, say, not the Moroccans.

Is there, in your opinion, a real opportunity for the integration of migrants into European society?

Forced to integrate migrants no one wants, but that is unrealistic. The question now is how want the migrants themselves and not prefer if they remake European society to fit their beliefs and practices.


Refugees in Europe

The main routes by which migrants and refugees come to Europe

Remember how things were in the 70-ies. Was also labour migration, and then from Turkey to Germany moved nearly two million people. They were welcomed, because we need working hands, the economy is booming. For example, the family settled in Germany (Germany and Turkey, I conditionally given as an example, by and large this is true of all diasporas), it imploded. The head of the family had studied German, and worked at the plant, was in good standing, has earned a pension, bought a house and successfully obtained citizenship. Parallel had children – relatively speaking, say, five sons. The sons grew up, they originally had German citizenship, the school taught the language, and everything was fine. Yes, their parents drove to the mosque, but maybe not. Fundamentally different – no one for the next generation of migrants five jobs in the German economy had not foreseen; moreover, the only space that was occupied by their father, it is along with a steel plant went to Africa. Therefore, they feel unnecessary to the society in which they live. That is, if the parents did everything to integrate the next generation and not trying, becoming easy prey for recruitment by all kinds of terrorists and extremists. At the moment, for example, in Brussels on 25%, i.e. every fourth resident immigrants in the first or second generation.

– Recently you said that you do not exclude the possibility of the revival of the project “South stream”. Could you elaborate on when and under what conditions the project can be resumed?

– “South stream” involved the construction of an offshore pipeline under the Black sea with Bulgaria and then the distribution of this gas on to EU countries (and not only). The European Commission has opposed, though by that time between Russia and all countries without exception, those who were interested in this project, were signed corresponding intergovernmental agreements. The European Commission considered that these agreements do not meet the standards contained in the notorious “third energy package” of the EU, and challenged them. Next was the refusal of the Bulgarian government on this project.

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“South stream”. The history of the project

Then the Russian side has switched to Turkey. There were “Turkish stream”, which closed for a very different reason – as a result of provocative actions of the Turkish side, resulting in the destruction of the Russian plane, the death of our pilot and subsequent statements.

Reborn now the “South stream” – don’t know yet. But theoretically such possibility exists, first, if countries who were potential participants, will once again show their interest. From the Bulgarian government, such declarations have already been made. But, most importantly, if the European Commission will reconsider their attitude to this project.

But until that happens, implementing the “Nord stream-2”. Against him, however, are also trying to build plot. But I think that, despite the attempts to put spokes in the wheel, and more precisely in the pipe, this project will be implemented, as well as was implemented “Nord stream-1”, despite the fact that he was trying to find fault.

– How would you comment on the statement of foreign Minister of Poland that the pipeline construction “contradict the international obligations of member countries of the UN and the OSCE”?

Hard to understand how the obligations within the UN and OSCE this may contradict. If Poland does not need gas so to say.

– Are there any plans in the near future the visit to Moscow of the head of European diplomacy Federica Mogherini?

The closest contact between it and the head of the Russian foreign Ministry will this week. Sergey Lavrov and Federica Mogherini will be in Munich, there will be a meeting of middle East Quartet and the meeting of the International support group Syria – so the opportunity to talk to them anyway.

As for when Federica Mogherini will travel to Moscow, not sure yet. But we are working on it.

Interviewed by Denis Dubrovin and Maria Glushkova

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Russian diplomacy: from povety to departments