Reform now: Russia wants a ‘strong, independent and open’ Europe, says Lavrov

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MOSCOW, Russia – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the European project failed to provide security and prosperity for the continent while the European Union (EU) is wasting its energies to confront Russia to please Washington.

“A unified Europe has not yet been built,” Lavrov said in his speech at the Munich Security Conference. “Everyday issues – from eradicating terrorism to steady economic growth – have not been addressed with adequate solutions.”

Instead, the Russian diplomat said that Europe has enjoyed being a “follower” of Washington’s “lead” while pursuing a “NATO-centered” foreign policy.

“As Europeans drag themselves to a senseless impasse with Russia, losing billions in sanctions imposed on the other side of the Atlantic, the world continues to change,” Lavrov explained, referring to the measures applied to Russia over the Crimea and Ukraine since 2014.

To stop being left behind, “the European house needs a major overhaul,” Lavrov insisted.

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“In practical terms, the EU has lost its monopoly on the regional integration agenda. The balance of power across the region is changing, mainly due to emerging powers in Asia Pacific,” Lavrov said.

The Russian Foreign Minister also said that as part of this new configuration, which includes the Chinese One Belt One Road initiative, and Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a notable role is being played by the Eurasian Economic Union, which strengthened the ties between five ex- Soviet republics, including Russia.

But Lavrov insisted that “despite widespread speculation” among Western politicians and media, Moscow is not interested in undermining the European Union.

“We are interested in a strong, independent and open European Union,” adding that the EU’s fight for independence in the form of an EU army is a “natural and positive development for the strengthening of a multipolar world.”

“The extent to which Europe can achieve its objectives is another matter,” Lavrov concluded.

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