Tallinn 26 May 2012 - NATO PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY TOLD NOT TO UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF RECENT CHANGES IN RUSSIA
Recent developments in Russia cannot but have an impact on its relationship with the Euro-Atlantic community, the NATO Parliamentary assembly heard on Saturday, 26 May.
For NATO nations, it is important that Russia remains a stable and reliable partner, Italian senator Lucio Malan told the Assembly’s Committee on Civil dimension of Security, presenting the draft report of the Sub-Committee on Democratic Governance, “The Forces of Change and Continuity in Russia: Domestic and International implications”.
Russia is undergoing substantial internal changes which importance should not be underestimated, said the rapporteur. The Russian leadership has lost the aura of invincibility, and elements of competition, debate and civic activity are returning to the political scene, according to the draft report. However the future shape of Russia’s political system is not certain, noted Malan.
“The Russian leadership faces a dilemma: they cannot afford to be seen in the same category as the rulers of Central Asian republics or Belarus. However, liberalisation of the system may lead to the loss of power through democratic elections. The way current leadership handles this dilemma will determine the future of Russia”, said the rapporteur.
According to the draft report, unrest and chaos in this multi-ethnic nuclear and military power would be the worst scenario for the region and the world. However, in the context of growing civic consciousness in Russia, further “tightening of the screws” can only lead to a new wave of mass protests and discontent. Gradual but decisive liberalisation of the political system towards greater inclusiveness appears to be the only way to civilized political process and genuine stability. Therefore, the Rapporteur welcomed the dialogue among all major political actors in Russia, and commended recent efforts to democratize the political system.
The political developments in Russia and the implications for the Euro-Atlantic Community were later debated by the members of the Committee during a presentation by Vladimir Yushkin, Director of the Baltic Center for Russian Studies in Tallinn. Russia’s military budget is increasing substantially, reaching 71,9 billion US Dollars or almost 4% of the GDP, the expert stressed, while several parliamentarians expressed concern about Russia’s military build-up at NATO borders .