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Friday, May 22, 1998 Published at 13:06 GMT 14:06 UK

Talking Point

Should Russia ever join the EU? Your reaction

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I think that Russia should get itself organised before joining any organisation. If a country can't pay its own workers, how can they compete in the world market?
Scott Brinkman, United States

Russia is by means of history and culture a European country. But it will take a long time for her to stabilise the politic and economic system. One day Russia should be a EU member, but not too soon.
Holger Schaefer, Germany

Russia is partly of the "east" and partly of the "west". Her people are too numerous to see themselves as just another tribe-turned-nation-state of Europe. She sees herself as the outside arbitur of inter-European AND inter-Asian conflicts. This is how she has made her place in the world up until now. She plays the smaller nations of central Asia and eastern Europe to her profit. It will continue thus.
Ron Burke, Canada

Russia should join the EU and should be welcomed with open arms. They don't have control over their economy and organized crime as of yet, but once they are able to stabilize the situation there they should be allowed in for the future stability and peace in Europe.
John Pappas, USA

It is almost unforseable that the Russian economy - racked by corruption, organised crime and incompetence - could ever come into line with those in Western Europe. In its present state, Russia inclusion would not only be of great detriment to the EU, but would afford the Russian Mafia chance to move into new markets. History tells us that Russia will always look to both East and West and conduct its affairs accordingly.
Ian Pratt, UK

Russia has an economy that is more backward than even EU countries such as Greece and Portugal. These countries already suck the wealthier countries dry. Imagine what Russia would do! We should encourage Russia to be stronger by making trade easier, but not let them into the EU until they are proven to be economically viable. Then they would be welcome.
Tim Pearce, UK

They should not even be in the G8. I thought that was a club of economic powers. Ask Russia when it last paid its workers a sensible salary, produced anything meaningful, or generally took care of its citizens in any way. As for the EU, can you imagine them having access to Western Europe? They will simply bring it down with all their problems like organised crime, etc. I think they need to clean up their house first.
Ada O, UK

They should eventually become members of the EU; this will of course take time. But the US will not be pleased as this will dramatically increase the power of the EU on the world stage (extend its sphere of influence into Asia, as Russia is in both Europe AND Asia), and dramatically reduce the influence of the US.
M Ridcully, UK

The European Union has been created by the most developed countries in the world. Russia's economy is in a shambles. They don't know where they are headed and a prime minister is being thrust on its citizens. If, due to its muscle power and pure size it seeks an entry to the EU, then it does have a right.
Joshi, India

Will Russia join the Western family, or be left out in the cold, perhaps to recreate the problems of the past? That is partly down to how the EU treats her. Membership of the EU in the short-term is impractical. Russia's democracy and economy are not sufficiently developed; and the EU is not large enough to absorb such a large country in its present stage of development. However, it is extremely important to take positive steps to help her develop. Reducing trade barriers, especially in agriculture, and extending cultural links will help.
Long-term Russian membership must be an aspiration, but in the medium term we should be working towards a Euro-Russian free-trade zone similar to NAFTA; perhaps combined with NAFTA. Life will be hard for Russians for the next few years. We will make matters worse if we raise unrealistic expectations, but we must also offer a realistic long-term hope that the sacrifices they make now, will bring benefits in the long-term.
George Kendall, UK

There is no apparent reason why Russia should not be allowed to join the European Union. I would imagine that the only realistic reason why such a move would be questioned is the disagreement that would be volleyed from the US. Russia has proved that it is no longer a totalitarian state, and when it comes to international decisions, it has dealt with them rationally and with maturity. This is a claim that the US cannot make. The only opposition towards Russia's integration into the European Union is from a pathetic xenophobic nation that is still caught up in the dogfights of the past; that is the United States of America.
Keith Dyer, Scotland

Russia should never be allowed to join the EC as it will be very hard for the EC to accommodate such a large and diverse country. What we can consider is limited membership, by giving countries like Russia and Turkey partial membership for trade only. We should never open our borders to these countries because we do not want a refugee crisis in our countries.
Abdullah Ali, UK

Nothing could come from Russia joining the EU but good. Its membership would once and for all rid it of the Cold War image. I say join and join now.
Mark Rose, UK

Russia should not join the Eu before it can show itself to be more stable both politically and economically. This I believe will not and cannot happen while Boris Yeltsin remains in power.
Simone Callas, UK

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