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Mr Boonstra, was there a progress towards a common European security in 2014?
Jos Boonstra: I think 2014 has been a very important year. Unfortunately, in a negative way. The EU and Russia are really at odds with each other. The hope for the secure community that once was being built can’t be built in the future anymore. Is this a new Cold War? Definitely, not. I think the common interests between Russia and the EU at the moment are just too close and too important to prevent a new Cold War.
How do you see the shape and future of the EU in the mid- and long-term perspective?
I see the future of the EU as still growing. I think the importance of the EU, though there is a lot of skepticism and criticism in Europe, is still expanding. Perhaps, it is dependent even on geography – thanks to enlargement. But I also see a lot of threats and challenges for the EU. The European continent needs to be very careful to stay engaged with neighbours. If we close up and become a fortress, are afraid of people and countries from our South or our East, it will have a very negative effect on our future. In that sense, the EU and Russia have a lot of interest in common work and will need to work, at some point, together again.
What is the value of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum for FRIDE?
At FRIDE, we are very happy that we are a part of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum. It has a great value for us. The debates are important. The research that is coming out of this is very useful to us. At FRIDE, we have been propagating a lot that civil society engagement is important. We are happy to be part of the Forum, and we value it a lot.
What are the current challenges for the Forum?
The Forum, especially these days, plays a very important role. It especially applies to political leaders, who don’t see each other eye to eye at the moment. There is really a lot of tension between the leaders personally. One of the reasons, why they don’t cooperate anymore, is bureaucracy. This is very different with the civil society players, who can easily meet and discuss the current issues. Even if they don’t always agree, they can play a very important role. Hopefully, it also applies to bringing their peers, the politicians, to the negotiations again. In that sense, I wish the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum all the best for the coming years and hope we will succeed in all that tasks.

Interview prepared on 21 January 2015 by Ana Valiente Casanova (FRIDE)