The S&D group in the European Parliament organized recently a conference on "Helsinki 40 years after" - after the Helsinki conference of 1975. EU and Russian representatives and experts had an open exchange about the way or better ways forward. Helsinki was a big success and had its contribution to overcome the division of Europe. But now we have new conflicts between Russia and the EU and we saw some sort of a new Cold War. In the following are my basic thoughts I could present to the conference in a round table with Karsten Voigt from Germany and Andrej Gromyko from Russia as well as one colleague from Finland and one from Georgia.
The European Union wanted to decrease the influence of mere power and increase the role of values internally and in international relations. Not everybody was happy about the European Charter of Fundamental Rights and its inclusion into the Lisbon Treaty. But the majority view was, that these rights were the basis of the EU's internal development and of extending the EU or of integrating our neighbours into the EU. And as the European rights and values were also taken for universal rights and values - they were in fact based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights- it was obvious to have them as foundation for the Common Foreign and Security Policy including the neighbourhood policy.
The crisis in the Ukraine and the conflict between Ukraine and Russia or between EU and Russia is far from over. Therefore, the discussion of how to exit this stalemate is continuing. Some politicians and "experts" just concentrate on the situation in the Eastern Ukraine. This military conflict is certainly the core of the present crisis. But it does not offer the key to any longer lasting solution. And that seems especially true for the (US) proposal to deliver arms to the Ukraine with its badly trained and inefficient forces. As Rajan Menon and Kimberly Marten demonstrated recently in a contribution from 22.02.15 to Foreign Affairs: “To deliver weapons, may only continue and escalate the war”.