Prodi’s interview focused on the shale gas debate in Europe, EU crisis and political parties. Full credit and interview may be found on HotNews, I am transcribing an excerpt on shale gas since I had a few posts on this topic and Prodi confirms my take on Russia in the regional shale gas debate.
Vlad Mixich (V.M.): How are Russia’s interests in Eastern Europe influenced by the possibility of shale gas exploitation? While Bulgaria has banned it, Romania and Ukraine are pro shale gas.
Romano Prodi (R.P.): Shale gas is, of course, important to Russia, but it is difficult for me to say that there is a direct interest. Because in Europe there are countries that have banned shale gas, like France, while there are others that are still debating on it. Shale gas is more of a subject related to home affairs because it opens up a debate on environmental protection. At least, this is how I should consider it politically. Shale gas exploitation depends on national governments, on political alliances in different countries who, of course, may be influenced by external factors, like Russia. But there are cases in which shale gas is located in metropolitan areas or beneath parks and then there are problems…
V.M.: So shale gas is not a threat to Russia?
R.P.: It is a threat to Russia. Even shale gas from the United States is a threat to Russia because it has an influence on prices. Anything that can reduce the price of gas is negative to Russia.
V.M.: In an interview of ten years ago, you were saying that “democracy evolves at a slow pace”. A decade onwards, looking at Russia, do you believe that democracy in Russia stagnates or evolves at a slow pace?
R.P.: Despite all of this, democracy evolves everywhere.
V.M.: Even in Russia?
R.P.: Yes. Because now we have alternative forces that one day or the other… Let’s take for instance the Arab Spring which is a typical case in which we have seen a greater fragmentation of power than what we had before. Strangely, there is an evolution of the diffuse role played by public opinion. We are witnessing this tendency in Africa and we are seeing it everywhere.
V.M.: Even in Russia?
R.P.: Well, definitely in the Russian society. But do not forget that a change in power comes after a change in society. Power is more mobile than we think when society evolves. In Russia, in China there are student debates you would not have dreamt of having before. There is not democracy yet, in the sense that there have not appeared changes in the structures of political parties, but there is a growing public participation even there. What bothers me is that this participation may be manipulated through the Internet, which is a fantastic progress tool, but which is immune to manipulation.
What a wonderful interview from Vlad Mixich on Romano Prodi! The rest of the interview may be found on HotNews webpage.