Activities 2010 - European Academy of Sciences and Arts

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Activities 2010 - European Academy of Sciences and Arts

EUROPEAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES & ART

RUSSIA DOES NOT NEED ANY MENTORS

At any rate, Western example setters or mentors are not particularly well received in

Russia, according to Alexandr Zapesotsky, a University Professor from St Petersburg. He

formulated Russian criticism of the west in the sharpest terms at the conference and held

a whole catalogue of sins under the noses of both the Americans and the Europeans – with

NATO’s eastward expansion being the biggest sins of all. "This step, perceived as a humiliation

of and disregard for Russia, shocked the Russian public. Since then, the West has

been viewed as the source of lies and of betrayal, a situation that has also rendered the

development of democracy in Russia more difficult ". And, “The West cannot be our mentor.

What we expect from Europe is recognition and respect for our own Russian traditions

and culture".

Despite all the criticism levelled at this perceived incorrect European behaviour towards

Russia, Culture Minister Avdeev sees no alternative to an increased closing of Russian and

European ranks – in order to be able to effectively meet the new dangers and challenges

that they both see themselves confronting: aggressive nationalism and international terrorism,

religious extremism and the imminent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,

unregulated migratory flows and organised crime operating across borders and drug and

people trafficking. "The distinctive feature of these new dangers is that they cannot be

fought by conventional armies. These challenges must be tackled above all with the engagement

of civil society and through close cooperation of special services", recommended

Avdeev. And: "The better Russia and the EU can work together in this regard, the less

likely it will be that these mounting destabilising waves can reach us".

The Minister of Culture also placed a very specific request on the table at Schloss

Leopoldskron: the abolition of the compulsory visa in the EU for European citizens. "It is

really an anachronism that the visa wall has survived the Berlin wall. Let us finally pull this

wall down because it is a nuisance to us all that is hindering our commercial, cultural and

scientific interactions".

SEE THE POSITIVE THINGS

The former Austrian vice chancellor and new president of the EU-Russia centre in

Brussels, Erhard Busek, expressed regret that the behaviour of Russia towards Europe

continues to be dominated by fear, whereby in particular, the fear of NATO is deliberately

stoked and the demonization of the western alliance is used for political ends. "Fear is

however a bad companion". Busek recommended instead "to see the positive things, to

break with our imperial traditions and for all sides to come to terms with the vestiges of

history. And in dealings with Russia, yes, respect is especially important", said Busek, confirming

Russian complaints. "Europe has largely neglected to afford this respect".

Martin Vukovich, Austria’s long-serving ambassador in Moscow, also believes that the

West has repeatedly disappointed Russia in the past. However, for the envisioned and at

the end of the day unavoidable modernisation of Russia, Moscow needs western partners

and western capital. Vukovich is convinced that "Russians are looking to Europe expectantly

and that we can’t afford to snub them again. Both parties would profit from a modernisation

partnership".

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