ALDE Group leader Guy Verhofstadt presented on Wednesday 28 March the Group’s new strategy paper to deal with Russia: "The EU needs more than a joint position on sanctions. We need a proactive strategy to get the EU-Russia relationship out of its current stalemate and to motivate Russia to start behaving in a more responsible manner."
"We need a strategy of 'conditional engagement' with Russia, inspired by the Helsinki process of the seventies. We must be tough on corrupt Russian officials, but make sure that law-abiding Russian citizens are not punished by sanctions against the regime.”
The ALDE Group believes that the process of 'conditional engagement' should be underpinned by four pillars:
1. Citizens Opportunities Pillar: Visa bans against corrupt Russian officials should continue, but Russian citizens should not be the victims of the sanctions. EU Member States should unilaterally facilitate issuing of visas and more scholarships should be offered to Russian students.
2. Economic Pillar: Investments should be opened up if Russia delivers on its commitments in respect to international law, respects its OSCE and Council of Europe obligations, and contributes to solving frozen conflicts in the East of Europe. A free trade area from Lisbon to Vladivostok could be the long-term goal.
3. Security Pillar: More European efforts using all the tools available to make Russia abide by international law.
4. Political Pillar: Dialogue with Moscow to make Russia implement the European Convention of Human Rights, backed by the perspective to open up cooperation under the economic pillar.
You can read the full blueprint here.