Fritz Bolkestain

Picture of Fritz Bolkestain

Nationality: Netherlands

UNITED STATES OF EUROPE - It`s an illusion

"Silvio Berlusconi on his own initiative tried to win the favor of President Putin, promising him membership in the EU. This is short-sighted. We should not be ashamed to admit that there are boundaries. The European Union must not encourage the hope that he is not going to meet." This is a quote from the published in late 2003 and immediately became a best-selling book "The Limits of Europe." Its author - Fritz BOLKESTAYN, European Commissioner for Internal Market, Taxation and Customs Union. In an interview with "Izvestiya" Ilona Vinogradova European Commissioner shared his views on EU enlargement and prospects of Russia and the European Union co-existence.

- Experts predict the collapse of the European Union, including due to the expansion, see the solution in the construction of a federal union of states. In other words, offer to do something from Europe, like the United States. And you put the limit of expansion ...

- Yes, I was initially of the enlargement of the Union to the border between Poland and Ukraine. These are natural borders of Europe. Was it unnatural division during the communist regime. Combining Western and Eastern Europe, is beneficial from all points of view - from a historical, political and economic. While I do not see any negative effects of expansion. Yes, it will cost a lot of money, but the investments that we make now will pay dividends in the future.

The reason that Russia and Ukraine should not be included in the EU is clear: if they are to let Europe turn into something completely different. We simply will not be able to manage such a Union - this is the first. And secondly - ideologically Europe and Russia are cut from a different test. In Russia the imperial mentality. And Europe, as you know, is held on the other valuables. I think that the best option for both Europe and Russia - to maintain friendly relations and promote trade. Gradually, we come to the fact that trade between Europe and Russia will be free as between Europe and the United States. After all, to trade freely, not necessarily to become an EU member. I think that in Russia itself, there is no such intention.

As for speculation about building a United States of Europe, it is contrary to the idea of ??unification of the European states in the EU. Building a federation means the loss of the sovereignty of each individual member of the EU.

- You stood at the origins of the formation of the European Union. Changed your views on the EU? As far as expectations in line with reality?

- Major changes in attitudes has not happened. I was and still am a realist, not illusions. Union itself has a more complex shape than was seen in the beginning. But I always was against a federal Europe. And the entry into the EU of Russia and Ukraine. Your country must find its way to prosperity and democracy.

- Do you support Russia`s accession to the WTO?

- I guess, yes. But first Russia must emerge in a market economy. What is happening in Russia, especially against the background of the political, yaschitayu, the process associated with the "Yukos", does not allow us to talk about a market economy in your country. The hand of the state is too heavy.

- Formation of the Slavic Union, as opposed to European, - as far as practicable, from your point of view?

- If Russia, Ukraine and Belarus want to be reunited - that is their right. I hope only that this hypothetical union will not be the aggressor with respect to Europe, what was the Soviet Union. With regard to the Balkans, I do not see prospects for such an association.

- When you are out of Europe, whom do you feel yourself?

- Europeans and then the Dutchman. I can not say that ethnicity is not important. But first of all I - European.

- Do you share the view of some historians and politicians (both Western and Russian) that Russia is more acceptable authoritarian regime?

- In no case. If we in Europe can be Democrats, I see no reason why Russia can not live in a democracy.