G8: Putin-hugging instead of tough demands
Press release, 13 July 2006, for immediate release
The G8 summit St Petersburg is doomed to become nothing more than a fancy photo opportunity for a couple of world leaders. The Young European Federalists (JEF Europe) is worried about the Russianisation of the G8, thus want to see more commitment and responsibility from European leaders and have clear demands in regard to their priorities. The Finns currently holding the EU-presidency should lead the way in creating a more credible and critical, common EU attitude towards Russia.
"It's a worrying picture we will get transmitted from St. Petersburg. The G8 itself is getting Russophile, as it is a highly unrepresentative and undemocratic body. The fact that this group of industrialised and supposedly democratic countries includes Russia in their midst constitutes a severe redefinition of democracy", Jan Seifert, president of the Young European Federalists commented on the meeting.
"Russia does not fulfill many criteria of a developed democracy. The complete lack of freedom and independence for its judiciary, its press and the civil society is just one of many major drawbacks."
"The Young European Federalists demand from the EU leaders present at the summit to raise the human rights issue before discussing business with Putin. JEF suggests that Finland as the chairing country of EU uses its special historical experience, good relations and geopolitical position in a more determined manner to pursue the democratic principles of EU in relations towards Russia." comments Jan Seifert
"Russia’s focus on energy and education completely ignores more pressing issues like the devastating human rights record of Putin, the ongoing violent suppression of civilian interests in Chechnya and the highly questionable support of Belarus’ dictator Lukashenko."
"Another issue of concern is energy. Recent developments in the energy markets have shown that there is at present no energy safety for EU members as well as our eastern neighbours. It is now time for the big member states to re-think their veto over a common policy in the energy sector. Mrs Merkel should be bold enough and change the nationalist German position", demands Jan Seifert.
Jan Seifert concluded: "It seems that Putin-hugging, a discipline invented by former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, has become a common hobby of G8 leaders. European leaders should make it clear to President Putin that he needs to invest more efforts into strengthening a democratic society in his own country before he gets out to mingle among the big guys."