The two-day Boris Nemtsov Forum, held on November 17-18 in Brussels, was devoted to the dialogue between Russia and the EU. The key topics of discussion were the impact of sanctions and resistance to the Kremlin propaganda. The forum, organized by Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom, was attended both by representatives of the Russian opposition and political activists from all over Europe. Head of the NGO “Bridge Ukraine-EU” Natalia Sevidova also joined the event.
The participants of the forum agreed that it is necessary to focus on implementing new personal sanctions against Russian officials. They say that the European sanctions act as an “awakening factor” for Russia. Leader of “Open Russia” Mikhail Khodorkovsky said he is willing to foster dialogue between Europe and the Russian civil society. At the plenary session the head of the European Parliament Martin Schulz said that relations between Russia and the EU experience “difficult times,” because of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, while Russia’s non-commitment to obligations under the Minsk agreements “creates enormous tension in relations between Russia and Europe.” Stressing that the European institutions want that “EU and Russia work together in future,” Mr. Schultz said that “it is necessary to provide a common legal framework.” As a negative example of Russian authorities’ conduct, the head of the European Parliament mentioned the use of the veto in adopting the most important documents in the Security Council that “violates international structure and stability in the world.” He also noted that the European Parliament has “frozen relations with the Russian parliament.”
Great contribution to the Forum has made ALDE faction led by Guy Verhofstadt who said that “the EU should be open to ordinary Russians.” His recipe in supporting good relations between Russians and Europeans is in expanding personal contacts with scientists, entrepreneurs, artists and many others.
Vice president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, Deputy Speaker of the Seimas of Lithuania Petras Auštrevičius, MEP, who has long supported Ukraine and is making every effort to end the war in Donbas, was moderating the second panel of discussion.
The head of the NGO “Bridge Ukraine-EU” Natalia Sevidova said the European sanctions against Russians have “influence,” which shows that aggressive and uncivilized policy of kremlin leaders isolates all Russian society from the rest of the civilized world.
“Sanctions against Russia and their prolongation show that the EU has civilized mechanisms to combat uncontrolled military aggression of the Kremlin,” – emphasized Natalia Sevidova.