Dealing with Russia - Towards a coherent Belgian policy
By Alexander Mattelaer, Laura Vansina (Eds.) (3 December 2020)
Belgo-Russian relations are mired in paradox. For several years, the relationship between the Russian Federation on the one hand and the EU and NATO on the other has been characterized by mistrust. Yet on a bilateral level, Belgium has pragmatically upheld what is left of commercial cooperation and cultural exchanges. In order to deal with this paradox, Belgium should formulate a more coherent approach towards Russia that focuses on upholding the European order and security whilst maintaining dialogue and engaging the Russian Federation. As it is unlikely that Russia will tone down its assertive foreign policy anytime soon, such a coherent approach needs to clarify Belgian policy priorities, communicate Belgian positions towards the Russian government, and educate the domestic audience about the evolving relationship with the Russian Federation. To nourish this debate, this Egmont Paper puts forward six policy recommendations, namely:
- Assume more ownership over multilateral decision-making.
- Maintain and deepen bilateral relations to enrich the multilateral framework.
- Re-develop Russia-related subject matter expertise in Belgium.
- Strengthen Belgian domestic resilience to cope with disinformation and a political relationship under stress.
- Explore the question on which basis the EU-Russia economic relationship can be improved.
- Strengthen the Belgian contribution to the collective defence effort.
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