President of the EU Commission Brussels, 08.05.2018
Dear Mr. Juncker
On April 25, 45 MEPs, representing the main political groups, addressed you an open letter, urging you and the EU heads of state to apply additional restrictive measures against Russian regime, to target specifically the Kremlin-related individuals and entities that are responsible for systematic and continuing acts of aggression, undermining democratic states, laundering illegal money and suppressing rights of citizens. Our conclusion was that President Putin aims to deliberately and openly confront the Western democracies in order to politically divide and destabilise them. We stress: the Kremlin’s strategy is to undermine and disintegrate Western rule-of-law societies as a whole, in the meantime, playing one democracy against the other.
However, today we are all in the same boat, facing the same threats and challenges which cannot be answered by new conciliatory gestures or even worse - by conceding that Russia has now more right to be recognised as a global power thanks to its blatant aggression against its neighbours. As the Acting US Army Chief of Staff Jack Keane concluded, Russia wants to become a world power by first restoring its domination over Eastern Europe.
Therefore, we are dismayed and concerned by your interview to the Dutch paper Trouw from April 28 - three days after our letter was sent to you. Even if this interview could be interpreted as an expression of your personal positions, obviously you cannot lay aside your status as president of the European Commission who has to represent all regions and states of EU, including the EU’s eastern part, which is directly exposed to Russian hostile activities.
We are concerned that after four years of systematic and all-encompassing Russian assertiveness, which includes annexing the territory of a sovereign neighbour and destroying the traditional international system of stability and security, one could still cherish the hope that the initiator of these acts could be seen as a friend. When you speak of the necessity of talking to Russia on equal footing, let us be clear that this equal footing was destroyed by Mr Putin himself through his use of brutal force and hybrid warfare. For Mr Putin, the EU’s unilateral attempts to establish an equal footing can now be interpreted as readiness to weaken the EU’s justified opposition to the aggression.
Therefore, moves to re-establish official contacts with Russian regime which is not prepared to re-establish its respect either for sovereignty of its neighbours or its respect for international rules of good behaviour, can unfortunately be counter-productive. Such moves will deepen the EU’s internal hesitations and undermine our highly needed resolve to act as one legal person.
Mr. Putin does not see the Western leaders as his friends. Officially, the Russian president views the West as an adversary. Today’s developments remind us dramatically of the need to draw lessons from the disastrous attempts of 1930s to appease the aggressor and contain his appetites. Today, it must be clear to all who care about democracy, solidarity and common security, that EU’s first priority must be restoration of its long-neglected position of strength and unity. Only then can we meet the Kremlin leaders on an equal footing. In the meantime, we have to avoid punishing ordinary Russians, who have been hijacked by Kremlin regime.
The European Commission, together with MEPs, has to address with all political and economic means the suppression of civil activists, murdering of journalists, and imprisonment of members of the democratic opposition. This brings us back to our letter to you from April 25. Let us do the first things first - this time in a credible and decisive way. Only then, other moves may become possible. Finally - let us not confuse Russians who continue to be our friends, with Mr Putin and his entourage.
Tunne Kelam, MEP, EPP Group
Lars Adaktusson, MEP, EPP Group
Laima Liucija Andrikiene, MEP, EPP Group
Petras Austrevicius, MEP, ALDE Group
Bendt Bendtsen, MEP, EPP Group
Michal Boni, MEP, EPP Group
José Inácio Faria, MEP, EPP Group
Anna Fotyga, MEP, ECR Group
Antanas Guoga, MEP, EPP Group
Gunnar Hökmark, MEP, EPP Group
Monica Macovei, MEP, ECR Group
Artis Pabriks, MEP, EPP Group
Cristian Dan Preda, MEP, EPP Group
Jiří Pospíšil, MEP, EPP Group
György Schöpflin, MEP, EPP Group
Michaela Šojdrova, MEP, EPP Group
Jaromir Štětina, MEP, EPP Group
Pavel Telička, MEP, ALDE Group
Inese Vaidere, MEP, EPP Group
Roberts Zile, MEP, ECR Group
Milan Zver, MEP, EPP Group