On the 4th of April the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) hosted a seminar where prominent speakers from academia and the policy-making world shared their views on the ongoing situation in Ukraine.

Massimo D’Alema, President of FEPS and former Prime Minister of Italy, had harsh words for the EU timid stance toward the Crimean crisis, considering “humiliating” the US’ move to put aside the EU in their direct talks with Russia. As a matter of fact Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian homologue Lavrov are the ones who are moving their pieces on the east European chessboard.

 “If want to be credible we must be consistent with our values and standards”, Mr. D’Alema stated criticizing the EU for doing nothing against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands in a time where peace talks are deadlock.

“War is not our core business” he added, suggesting that soft power and consistency in promoting the “European values” of democracy and rule of law will do better for Europe than a mere tug of war with Russia.

On the subject of the European Union dependency on imported gas he suggests to enhance the existing gas network in Europe to better exploit existing reserves, an infrastructural investment that could reduce Europe’s dependency on Russian gas by 20%.

Of an opposite opinion André Gerrits, Professor of Russian History and Politics at Leiden University, who asserted that Europeans should flex their muscles by deploying troops in Poland and in the Baltic States given that “Russians understand force”, criticizing the EU “postmodern rhetoric” and lack of realism on foreign affairs matters.

Both Hannes Swoboda (leader of the S&D) and Andres Inotai (Professor at the College of Europe) acknowledged the inadequacy of the Eastern Partnership and its inability to address the challenge faced by the Russian-led Eurasian custom union.

He advocates for a far-reaching eastern policy that should be adequately funded and should offer a real chance for a membership to strategic countries such as Moldova. “We should offer the membership for Moldova immediately” he stated, showing his concern over the fate of a country that faces the threat of Russia annexing its proxy breakaway State of Transnistria.

“The EU is financing Russia through the IMF loans” he added by signaling that financial assistance to Ukraine serves mainly the purpose of paying debts to Russia and the cost of increased energy prices.

Finally the leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) Hannes Swoboda underscored the value of targeted policies toward the countries of the Eastern Partnership and the need for strong economical and political support while at the same time he condemned the inconclusive wishful-thinking of European leaders on the matter of a common European energy strategy.

To know more:

– FEPS Forum  « A Progressive Renaissance for Europe » : EN

– FEPS Forum Programme in PDF : EN