Jonathan Holslag: Entrenchment of Vladimir Putin is going to be very difficult to reverse

Jonathan Holslag, a professor of international politics at the Free University of Brussels, visited Kyiv to present his book  China’s Coming War with Asia, which was translated into Ukrainian. We suggest reading some author’s thoughts about European future.

– China is not a military threat, but it is economy threat, so we have prompt policy, it depends on smart-trade-policy. We infer that EU has trade deficit 1 billion a year. We do not have sophisticated instruments to tackle with growing China economy. We agree that a number of year we have high level. How we do – it is your business. We do not interfere. But more tricky point is we have to understand that the world is going to be continue a competition of economic nationalism, creating better jobs opportunities for people. For instance India needs to grow three times as much faster to create same number of jobs as a China created in 1980-90th. So the challenge is to reengineering an economy and making more beneficial to depart from what humans want. Not from technology can offer, not from that smart big company have to offer as servicers and goods.

– An ideal trade market reflects what we desire as a society. If you are the citizen of Europe you not wish to be treated as a slave. You do not tolerate goods made by slaves. If you don’t want to suffocate because of air pollution, you cannot goods being imported produced in such conditions. Otherwise it make impossible life for a local producers. If you force local producers not to use slaves and not do pollution, but allow to do that foreigners, local production will disappear. The question is a trade policy is going to be bad to China? Obviously not, the consequences of policy, probably, will do less trade. We cannot compete with China in modern buildings, machine and other stuff. We can do something special. In China there is a shortage of food and EU has a food-abundance. Perhaps, Ukraine should not take satisfaction with doing it to bulk, so making nice food products and export it to China.

– The European friendship is a myth. Ukraine should not wait for EU to make its future. You should develop your country inside, start making your own future.

– Russia… What will we do with it? First of all, Russia wants Ukraine, it is unacceptable, we should obviously full-stop it. Secondly, we should find a proper position of Russian in the world boat today. I still not believe that Russia remains a power, it is not raising a power, Russian population is stagnant, its military is not strong as it pretends it’s to be. Of course for a country as Ukraine it is a huge threat, but not for a Europe.

– However, now Europe is a witness because of energy dependence to Russia. On the one hand financial sanctions have affected, but one the other hand we are making Russia rich, it earns over 2 hundred billion dollars by selling energy to the EU. That’s a contradiction in terms. There are two ways to deal with that. Either act to block a consumers and use your position or try to reduce your dependence. The main problem is a witness should stand up to that and to speak with one voice about a foreign energy policy.

– I do believe, we need to work with Russia to bring back ability to understand some of its sensitivities, but never ever to accept changing status quo. We have a reason to work with Russia in a Middle East and central Asia around Caspian sea. Is it going to work? Probably. not. I’m not so optimistic about Europe’s ability in foreign energy policy. Entrenchment of Vladimir Putin is going to be very difficult to reverse. Some of opportunity is if the new administration in US decides to break an agreement.