Former German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen’s election as European Commission president is unlikely to pave the way for significant changes in relations between Russia and Western countries, Chairman of the Russian Federation Council (the upper house of parliament) Foreign Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev wrote on Facebook.
"Though the European Commission president is an important official, it is not a position that makes it possible to determine the European Union’s policies. There is a huge bureaucratic inertia in the system, as well as the need to take member states’ consensus and the European Parliament’s position into account.
This is why I wouldn’t say that the policy will change much. A mainstream politician has taken the helm who will ensure policy continuity and will hardly show a new approach to domestic and - which is more important - foreign policy issues," Kosachev is quoted as saying by TASS.
"As far as we are concerned, it will likely mean that ‘all is quiet on the Western front.’ The Russian - or better put, anti-Russian - policy will remain the same, but since forces seeking dialogue with Russia are strengthening their position in the European Parliament and business communities - primarily, those in Germany - keep pressure up, I think that efforts to build dialogue will slowly begin," the senior Russian senator added.
Kosachev noted that von der Leyen "is not the worst option" for the European Union. "She is a tough high-profile politician whom [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel supports with all of her political weight. She is also popular and trusted in France, so her election will enhance the role of the German-French duo in the EU," he wrote.
The Russian senator also emphasized that the outcome of the European Parliament’s vote on von der Leyen’s nomination showed "deep differences within the EU, which became clear during the recent European Parliament elections."
Germany’s former Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen was elected President of the European Commission on Tuesday. As many as 383 members of the European Parliament voted in von der Leyen’s favor, 327 voted against her and 22 abstained from voting. She needed the backing of 374 MEPs to be elected.