The confusion in EU-Russia relations ranks as one of the top challenges for European governments. Four key tests are needed to resolve whether to wield the big stick and confront Russia or speak softly with a mixture of carrot and stick in dealing with Russia under its new President.
Charles Tannock MEP, Conservative Foreign Affairs Spokesman, argues today that energy security, commercial certainty, territorial respect and NATO rapprochement are the tests that Europe's leaders must be judged by if we want a strategic partnership with what is still the largest country in the world which now projects renewed confidence due to its mineral resource driven trillion dollar economy.
Dr Tannock said:
"We need energy security as we are a key trading partner for oil and gas. We need legal certainty for western natural resource companies investing in Russia especially given Russia's imminent accession to the WTO.
"Russia must be pressed to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its near neighbours. Within the UN, Russia should help resolve the problems in the Middle East as well as nuclear proliferation in Iran and North Korea.
"Russia plays a key role in the western Balkans including resolving the Kosovo question and should not fear expansion of NATO to include Ukraine and Georgia."
"Only if we can make progress in these four areas can we give President Medvedev the benefit of the doubt about improving the rule of law, human rights and the fight against corruption."