Cold dark future for Europe – Illarionov
IPN Press release
TUESDAY 23 MAY 2006, LONDON
Andrei Illarionov, former economic advisor (2000-2005) to Russian President Vladimir Putin, argues that Europe’s own policies have contributed to the current uncertainty over its energy security and that the Russian authorities are now able to take advantage of this situation – to the detriment of Western values and institutions:
“It is no surprise that Europe is facing a cold, dark future deprived of energy. In recent years, many European leaders have been obsessed with energy rationing. They intentionally have demonised energy production and use. They have claimed that hydrocarbon energy is too cheap and demanded a carbon tax. They have adopted the Kyoto Protocol – and cajoled Russia into joining,” said Illarionov.
“Now that the bear of state interventionism and central planning is out of its cave, the Russian authorities are effectively offering the energy rationing so desired by European leaders. They shouldn’t be surprised: this ‘chilly war’ is exactly what they have worked so hard to secure,” he continued.
Illarionov suggests that the response, or absence of response, by Western leaders to actions by the Russian authorities – including violation of individual rights, disregard for freedom of speech, and aggressive behaviour towards democratically-oriented former Soviet states such as the Ukraine, Georgia and Maldova – has effectively led to a “chilly war” between Russia and the West.
“What we see now is a great battle unfolding in front of our eyes, one with implications similar to those of the Cold War. It is a battle not predicated on military, political or economic power. It is about the fundamental institutions that define western civilization – the market economy, liberal democracy, the rule of law – and the moral standards and values underlying these institutions,” said Illarionov.
Illarionov explained that, in his view, energy security is symbolic of a larger issue between Russia and other G8 members in the lead-up to the July G8 meeting in St. Petersburg.
“Are G8 members serious about defending the very cornerstones, defining values and institutions of Western civilisation – or will they compromise and bow to the demands and caprices of the new energy tsars?” Illarionov asked.
“The upcoming G8 meeting in St. Petersburg will be the first public test of how serious the West is about defending the values and institutions of Western civilisation. Judging by the actions of G7 leaders so far, it remains unclear whether they will stand up to this threat or not. Without this courageous leadership, Europe’s future certainly will be cold and dark” he concluded.
Dr. Andrei Illarionov, former advisor and G8 sherpa to Russian President Vladimir Putin, delivered a keynote address on Tuesday morning at a conference hosted by the Stockholm Network in London.