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Is Russia a Europe?

Is Russia a Europe?

Mikhail Margelov

Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation

Mikhail Margelov, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation:

- I put a question mark in the title. Because this issue is at least 500 years old, during which, when defining the borders of Europe for Western, and part of Russian, minds, the main problem was whether to include Russia in these borders or not. And not only Russia - Portugal, Scandinavia, the Baltics, Scotland, Poland, Hungary, Wales, Ireland, all the Balkan countries and so on were periodically denied belonging to Europe. Well, if the list of European countries expanded due to the eastern geographic regions, then in the West Europe was immediately divided into "white" and "black".

What I am absolutely sure of is that Russia is not Asia. If only because I'm an Arabist, graduate of the Institute of Asian and African Countries. The students of this institute not only studied languages ​​exhausted, namely "penetration" into the uneasy for Europeans' way of life, culture, customs, politics, the society of the East. I am sure that these subjects are easier to absorb in Russian higher education institutions, oriented to the training of Western-style internationalists, than with training for work in the East. Because our students are Europeans. Russia really is not Asia, although there is "Asiatic" in it. This is when the city official, after reading all the nonsense, decides that his power is sacred, takes bribes and ravages the local budget on a "metaphysical basis." Unfortunately, there are many such examples.

With the subtleties of the East I have to face "in the field", on business trips to Arab and African countries. And with the United States and Europe, I am also "familiar with work." For a long time he was in the Russian delegation to PACE, he was the vice-speaker of this organization, he headed the political group of European democrats. With the US Senate, the Federation Council had a joint working group, we work closely with the parliaments of Italy, the French Senate and other institutions. So, to the question whether Europe is Russia or Asia, the West or the East, I am able to respond not by books, but by "experiencing" the life and customs of these parts of the world on my own. And I agree with the point of view, according to which not everything, but "much good and bad in Russia happened and is in contact with the West", primarily with Europe, because Russia is an inseparable part of it. And Russia's cultural difference with what is called Europe is no more than the same difference between the Netherlands and Spain.

The European Union, in spite of the efforts of the Brussels bureaucracy, does not "measure the common yardstick". For example, experienced negotiators know that dealing with representatives of the northern and southern countries of the European Union are different things, although both belong to Europe. Because every time you meet not with abstract Europeans, but with specific Frenchmen, Spaniards, Englishmen, Portuguese and others. And all of them are not products of the supranational European, but of their national cultures, each of them has an idea of ​​the culture and values ​​of the peoples of other EU member countries no more than the resident of Russia who studied at the school and university. And there is an opinion that today's Europeans are united by common citizenship, and not by culture and the values ​​associated with it. However, this does not mean that different Europeans in fact have no common values ​​at all.

We do not have a common citizenship with the European Union. And our borders with this community are political, although, of course, there are valuable differences between us. By the way, there is no "list of European values" recognized by the expert community. Although the documents in which these values ​​are listed, there is. For example, in the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties, in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and in its security strategy and in others. There is also a "top document" - the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the UN 1948.

I have already had to write that the emphasis on the "gap in values" in the relations between the European Union and Russia is unproductive. I mean the "European values" of the modern era, the era of faith in progress, the cognizability of the world, the attainability of a "bright future". No one in Russia denies them.

There are differences between values ​​and interests — values ​​may be close, and interests may diverge. This gap is observed in the countries of the European Union. Therefore, Russia should not be afraid of those European values ​​that do not threaten its interests. Moreover, a significant part of these values ​​does not belong to Europe alone. But like any sovereign country, Russia has the right to ban. Moreover, now in the West the era is different. The values ​​of modernity remain formally there, but postmodernism not only brought confusion to the interpretation of these values, but also added items to their lists that are unacceptable for the cultural code of Russia. In the eyes of a significant part of the world, the European Union ceases to be a “community of values”.

"European values" have always stood out for values ​​universal, universal, and Western interests - for the interests of the whole "world community". But how does this combine the tolerance of the so-called plurality of truths, created by tolerance? For mentally healthy people - in any way. Tolerance is a complex concept, but in practice it often boils down to equalizing good and evil, vice and virtue. Therefore, in terms of values, the European Union should not hold a mentor's post in relation to us - this posture can be a consequence of paralysis.

The blurring of values ​​in the European Union has led to the fact that Europeans are not able to withstand the aggressive values ​​of migrants, worthily defend their identity. Somehow I had to participate in an international seminar on the future of Europe. And I managed to joke about the fact that I'm not afraid of this future, because I'm fluent in Arabic. The Europeans present answered me with sad smiles.

There is another side to the problem - the exploitation of values ​​in the pursuit of military and material interests, in other words, in double standards. The West is practical, there ideal parcels do not lose touch with real means. Intellectuals here, for example, can search for the center of Europe, talk about multiculturalism and so on, while practitioners at the same time think about diversifying energy sources. And as soon as the West begins the next “spread of democracy” in any region, look for oil fields there, geography suitable for the transit of energy carriers, or other opportunities for expanding markets. For example, "the struggle for the European choice of Ukraine." For the West, this is geopolitics and geo-economics - to expand NATO and create markets for EU goods, to start production of shale gas on Ukrainian black earth, if importing it from the United States will be costly. I’m not going to read anyone’s morality here, because there’s probably no policy without double standards.

If we return to the values, then recently the density of criticism of Russia from the European Union has been observed in two directions: juvenile justice and the propaganda of homosexuality. But after all, this and other causes a sharp aversion in Russian society. And if for the sake of something to go to the meeting of the European Union and to solve it, then the number of problems will increase dramatically. And there are already a lot of them. If anything, this essentially distinguishes us in the value field with the European Union. But the European Union is not monolithic, there are also opponents of juvenile justice, eroding traditional families, and propaganda of homosexuality. These are conservative forces upholding their values. In Russia, a recent survey showed that more than half of the respondents believe that conservatism helps them to keep traditions and move forward. And the fact that Russians sympathize with bisexual families, in which one is called “father” and the other “mother”, they do not cease to be Europeans. And perhaps they are even more European than the current citizens of the European Union, because they consciously or spontaneously adhere to the values ​​of classical rather than postmodern Europe.

Published in the magazine "European Club" # 2 (2014)

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