Among the most vocal supporters of Russian membership of the EU has been former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. In an article published to Italian media on 26 May 2002, he said that the next step in Russia's growing integration with the West should be EU membership. On 17 November 2005, he commented in regards to the prospect of such a membership that he is "convinced that even if it is a dream ... it is not too distant a dream and I think it will happen one day." Berlusconi has made similar comments on other occasions as well. More recently, in October 2008, he said "I consider Russia to be a Western country and my plan is for the Russian Federation to be able to become a member of the European Union in the coming years" and stated that he had this vision for years.
Russian permanent representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov commented on this by saying that Russia has no plans of joining the EU. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has said that Russia joining the EU would not be in the interests of either Russia or the EU, although he advocated close integration in various dimensions including establishment of four common spaces between Russia and the EU, including united economic, educational and scientific spaces as it was declared in the agreement in 2003.
At present, the prospect of Russia joining the EU any time in the near future is slim. Analysts have commented that Russia is "decades away" from qualifying for EU membership. Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has also said that though Russia must "find its place both in NATO, and, in the longer term, in the European Union, and if conditions are created for this to happen" that such a thing is not economically feasible in the near future.
Accusations of Russia's having armed the Republic of Syria combined with France's taking the United Nations and United States apparent directive of dialogue as spearheaded by United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have served to further stall EU / Russian Federation Relations and possible Russian Federation Admission to the European Union, as Syria appears to have, according to the United Nations, degenerated into a Civil War according to a statement by a high ranking United Nations official, who, along with his contingent was fired upon by Syrian Government Forces.
Read more about this topic: Russia–European Union Relations
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