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VENICE, February 11 (Itar-Tass) — The European Union acknowledges Vladimir Putin, despite criticism, as the Russian leader and hopes for the country’s further democratization.
This conclusion was drawn by Italian and European politicians and experts who participated in the conference “Presidential elections in Russia: European expectations” which was held here on Saturday. It was sponsored by the independent Italian socio-political fund Alcide De Gasperi and co-sponsored by the Russian Research Institute on International Integration.
The president of the De Gasperi Fund and former Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini noted that Europe is interested, from the strategic point of view, in stability of Russia and of its foreign policy.”We have many common interests not only in Europe, but in the Middle East as well as at the international level.
“Putin’s return as president will help to consolidate Russia’s position in the international arena,” Frattini emphasized.
He is inclined to see a reflection of democratic processes in recent protest actions in Russia. The politician who is a deputy of the Italian parliament, noted that “young Russian democracy has achieved much over the past 10-15 years”. He underlined at the same time that “it is necessary to continue reforms for Russia’s further democratization”.
Spanish ex-premier Jose Maria Aznar also shares the opinion that following the presidential elections, Russia will become stronger. “Putin has a project for building a strong Russia. Earlier, he aired ambitious plans of the country’s modernization, and Russia advanced forward under his previous leadership,” Aznar added.
The debate with the participation of prominent international experts overstepped the framework of relations between the EU and Russia which, as all speakers stressed repeatedly, is a strategic partner of Europe in questions of energy and general security.
Conferees also discussed questions of democracy in Europe. Professor of the prestigious Catholic University and specialist in international affairs Vittorio Parsi, “Russia is looking for its model of democracy”.
“Russia regained the prestige in the world over the years of the rule of Putin and Medvedev thanks to consolidating the role of state power. However, a conflict has emerged in the country now: it shows the transition of society to a new level of democratization, which needs a more delicate approach,” Parsi noted.
The Alcide De Gasperi Fund, named in honour of the prominent Italian politician who was among founders of the EU, was established in 1982 as a socio-political and cultural non-government organization, called upon to propagate principles of democracy, peace and international cooperation.