One of the key goals of the EU has been to promote good governance, human rights and democracy in the world (Manners 2002; European Council 2003; Keukeleire and Delreux 2014). This goal has also been regarded as central to the EU’s relations with Russia, but its relative importance in comparison to other goals has been much disputed. There are those who consider that democracy promotion has been a utopian goal and that trying to push the agenda has been counterproductive, leading to grave problems in the relationship, while others have suggested that the EU has only tried to foster this agenda half-heartedly, and hence it has not only undermined its own values and principles but also contributed to the problems in EU–Russia relations. Still a third group sees the EU as not being genuinely interested in promoting noble goals, but just advancing its own self-interest hypocritically under the pretext of universal values. All the groups, however, agree in their own way that the EU has not been particularly successful in this area (see Saari 2010a). Although traditionally it has been the EU that has taken the initiative to foster and influence a set of democratic values in Russia, more recently we can also discern increasing Russian attempts to shape the understandings and developments concerning human rights and democracy in Europe. However, to argue that this is an area where the partners compete with their systems of values and related interests is simplistic and neglects the perspective that these issues have also been very much a part of the common agenda. Indeed, and despite President Putin’s repeated professions of how ‘the West’ took advantage of Russia’s temporary weakness during the 1990s to impose a set of alien norms and values upon it, it is worth remembering that originally in the PCA, Russia did, in fact, both subscribe to and eventually also ratify this agenda (see Chapter 2).
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