If we want to analyze sanctions towards Russia, it is not unreasonable to learn from history. No war with Russia defeated Russia. On the contrary, such wars always caused suffering not only in Russia but also throughout the rest of Europe.
We, in our Czech parliamentary movement Freedom and Direct Democracy from the beginning, we were against sanctions to punish Russia for defending the interests of Russians in eastern Ukraine and the Crimea.
I have long been thinking about what was the real aim of breaking business connection with Russia, namely sanctions.
From the beginning it was clear that no sanctions can force Putin to change his policy.
We know that Americans like to use the policy of economic embargo against inconvenient governments. They have used sanctions to weaken and destabilize the economy of the target country, followed by inciting civil unrest.
But in Russia, which is strongly uniform in a question of patriotism, this could never succeed.
Sanctions united Russians and Putin used them to strengthen the independence of Russia from the European Union. De facto, he has forced European companies to replace imports by investing directly in Russia. So the goods that we imported there, they produce in Russia today. Our companies pay taxes to Putin and employ Russians.
Russia of course turned its attention to other partners – China, India and Latin America.
To sum up – due to sanctions, Russia has become more independent from the West. Who left this battle weakened? Unfortunately, we did.
I like the motto “Those who trade, do not fight.“
To achieve peace, mutual trust is needed. And we have to require credibility from our partners, including Russia, and also provide it ourselves.
Our aim should be exactly the opposite – to strengthen cooperation to the maximum. Not only with Russia, but ideally with the Eurasian Economic Union. Actually, I can not imagine a better partner for the European Union, as countries of Eurasian Economic Union need technology, machinery, consumer goods and know-how, that is what the European Union has to offer.
And conversely, EEU has what Europe desperately needs – mineral resources and raw energy resources.
As we say in the Czech Republic – it is a rich bride who offers a large dowry. And it is time to show concern about the bride because the strong and rich competitive grooms from around the world are waiting behind the door.
Despite the artificially provoked hostility, Russians like Europe and Europeans. They are in fact the Europeans. Despite all the differences, we are inhabitants of one continent and descendants and bearers of a great culture.
Ladies and gentlemen, as you sit here, you are the national representatives of large part of Europe. Let me give you one suggestion for thought – what if we invited representatives from across the Eurasian Economic Union for some future meeting?
If we find common ground and good will, we of course can help to organize such an international meeting.
Let us show the mainstream European politicians that those who divide the world with hatred, are not us, but them.
Let us show them that Europe of free nations can be more unified than Europe under the dictates of Brussels.