#2 - JRL 7223
Russians massively favour joining European Union: poll
June 15, 2003
An overwhelming majority of Russians say they would like to see their country one day join the European Union, a trend that has increased sharply over the past month, according to an opinion poll published Sunday.
Seventy-three percent of those questioned by the Public Opinion Foundation said they would like to see Russia as an EU member, with 10 percent expressing the contrary view, the Interfax news agency reported the poll as saying.
In May the corresponding figures were 52 percent and 18 percent, the poll showed.
The most significant international event likely to have influenced public opinion in the period between the two polls was the visit of more than 40 heads of state and government, including most European leaders, to Saint Petersburg to celebrate the tercentenary of the city's founding.
The POF poll indicated that 55 percent of Russians believe most European leaders view their country favourably, with 24 percent disagreeing.
A majority of respondents believed that the current environment is favourable to a Russian rapprochement with Europe.
Fifty percent of respondents said that Russia should develop an equal partnership with both the European Union and the United States, while one third (31 percent) said that priority should be given to developing relations with the European Union.
Only two percent said that Russia should primarily focus on expanding its cooperation with the United States, the poll showed.