Europe encompasses more than just the European Union; Russians are Europeans as well. And, just like the rest of Europe, Russia is undergoing rapid change, especially among its youth. While generational transition is not an automatic vehicle of progress, Russian youth, particularly university students, represent a real hope. These ideas were raised during the discussion with Ambassador of Denmark to Moscow Per Carlsen, hosted by the Carnegie Moscow Center. Carnegie’s Dmitri Trenin moderated.

Changes in Russia

Twenty-five years ago, on the eve of Gorbachev’s perestroika, it seemed that the country was totally stagnant and that nothing much was going to change in the Soviet Union for at least another quarter-century. Looking back from the present day, the changes have been astounding.

Yet some things have proven resistant to change, particularly the power of those with authority and the weakness of those excluded from the political decision-making process. Some things have even changed for the worse, including public morality.

Russia and the EU

As Russia continues to evolve, it needs wide-ranging efforts at modernization. In this endeavor, the European Union can certainly help. Yet Russia needs to work with the entirety of the EU, not only its larger members. Russia can improve its standing vis-à-vis the EU by appreciating the role of smaller countries, such as Denmark, and also by improving relations not only with Poland, but the Baltic States as well.