05:42 GMT +310 December 2018
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    Diplomats Take Note: Russia is No Wild Bear and Europe is Lost Without It

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    After the fall of the USSR, Europe and the US approached Russia as they did Africa in the early days of colonization, offering trinkets for gold. However, Russia is not a "fierce, wild bear" as assumed, but an educated nation, without which Europe will be unable to defend its so-called European values, says a Portuguese historian and writer.

    Last Wednesday Portuguese historian and writer José Milhazes presented his new book on Russia: "Russia and Europe: Part of the Whole", where he attempted to convey to Portuguese readers the history of relations between Russia and Europe since the ninth century to the twenty-first century.

    The writer, who has a doctorate degree from the Faculty of Arts of the University of Porto and has been studying the History of Russia at Moscow State University, acknowledged that European diplomacy is often at fault due to its own convictions, and has a great deal still to learn.

    European diplomats come to Russia in order to impose their own standards, which can potentially lead to disastrous consequences.

    Right after the disintegration of the Soviet Union Europe, the US treated Russia like the first years of the colonization of Africa — offering trinkets for gold. The Russians were seen as a backward people who needed to be educated.

    "We often despise partners, 'the other', we are convinced that we do know, we do reason, forgetting about the great cultural wealth of Russia. We are dealing with people who have a solid background and can contribute to the much talked about rapprochement with Europe," Milhazes said at the presentation of his book.

    "I tried to show that Russia is not the 'fierce, aggressive, wild bear' as projected by some of the most fiery advocates of the so-called Western values. Russia must participate. Without it, we will not be able to defend the European values which are the basis of our civilization," he added.

    Sputnik Brazil also talked with politician Guilherme d'Oliveira Martins, who was in charge of the presentation of the book.

    "Unfortunately there is a great gap in our knowledge regarding the relationship between Russia and Europe. This ignorance is mainly due to the low awareness of the Portuguese and Europeans as a whole," he said at the presentation.

    "Many of the recent developments of the Ukrainian crisis can be attributed to a lack of knowledge of the core of the problem and the geographic and geostrategic importance of this region, "he added.

    Professor Oliveira Martins has consecutively held the posts of Portuguese Minister of Education (1999 – 2000), Minister of the Presidential Affairs (2000 – 2002), Finance Minister (2001 – 2002), President of the Portuguese Court of Audits (2005 – 2015).

    Professor Oliveira Martins however stressed that he is optimistic about the future and democracy in Eastern Europe. His basic idea is that Europeans must learn more about Russia and the different cultures that inhabit its territory.

    Peace in Europe depends on the existence of what José Milhazes has called the "modus vivendi" with European culture and the cultures of Russia.

    "That is why, in the case of Ukraine, it is essential to know well this territory, its origins, its diversity, since Kiev is something of a matrix of the Russian culture, as we know, but the western territory of Ukraine was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until World War I," he says.

    The basis for peace, he stressed, lies in understanding the makeup of Ukraine. It is vital to understand the diversity of the country, recognizing that it was the Russian culture, which is also a European culture, which has given us so many major artistic works by talents such as Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Pushkin and Tchaikovsky.

    "There will be no Europe if there is no awareness of a need for complementarity between the old European peoples and the peoples living on the Russian territory."

    "All European diplomats should read this book because it is a very well-informed work, which clearly demonstrates that Europe needs a good relationship with Russia," he concluded.


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