Russians skeptical about rapprochement between Russia and the West

Shortly before the EU summit in Ireland, which will consider issues of NATO enlargement to the east, the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) decided to find out the country's population's attitude toward European integration.

"On the whole, one can note a colder attitude of Russians toward the idea of rapprochement between Russia and the West," VTsIOM told RIA Novosti.

Such a "colder attitude" is displayed in the small growth of the share of "Euroskeptics". These are people who are convinced that Europe will never treat Russia as an equal partner. For the last year, the number of such people increased from 16% to 20%.

The number of those who want equal, partner-like Russia-EU relations but speak against full integration of Russia into European institutions has reduced from 30% to 25%.

The same tendency is displayed in the hypothetical voting "for" or "against" Russia's joining the EU. From 2001 to 2004, the number of those ready to vote for reduced by 10% (to 45%), and the number of those ready to vote against grew by 9% (to 30%).

Respondents mentioned economic profitability, fears to remain "on the curb of Europe" and the urge to catch up with Europe in terms of living standards, standards of democracy and human rights as the arguments in support of Russia's joining the EU the most often.

Only 12% of the pollees mentioned pan-European identity, the closeness of Russia and Europe in terms of culture and spirit as a stimulating factor. This is in what Russians are different from most East European countries' residents, who mentioned "the return to the family" of the European nations as one of the main motives to join the EU.

Among the main trends of Russia-EU cooperation, economic ones are in the first place in polls. Cooperation in the fight against international terrorism is still topical, believe the respondents.

The poll registered a reduction of the significance of military technical cooperation. The importance of civil projects in aviation and space exploration is becoming more important.

The opportunity to get rid of visa barriers on European territory has become more important for Russians. This, in VTsIOM experts' opinion, is connected with the new stage of EU enlargement and the introduction of a visa system with Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Cyprus, and with the general toughening of the visa system in the Schengen area.

This all-Russian poll was conducted in late February in 100 inhabited localities of 39 regions, territories and republics of the country. 1,587 respondents were questioned at their place of residence. The statistical error does not exceed 3.4%.

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