In the 14 years that I have lived and worked in Russia I have seen many successful European and Russian businesses that have thriving long term relations. Nevertheless, in spite of the apparent successes I am convinced that there still is a huge potential for Russian – EU business development that is still untapped. One of the main reasons for the fact this potential has not been exploited yet lies in the lack of understanding between Russian and EU businesses. In my business practice in Russia I have seen that this lack of understanding is caused by many different factors but first and above all there is the factor of fear.
Russia still has a negative image in Europe which is largely caused by the negative international media. And, in all honesty, also the strong statements made by the Russian government do not help to soften Russia’s image abroad. Most Europeans who have no, or little, experience in Russia still think of Russia as a country where the mafia is still roaming around the streets wielding big machine guns. One thinks of oligarchs and polonium. Russia is seen as a cold, hard country where people look bad tempered and you can expect to be cheated at every turn. One of the few positive exceptions to this negative image is Russian culture. Every European knows about Russian opera, ballet and literature but regardless of this fact fear is still the predominant notion when Europeans regard Russia.
This fragment above is taken from Jeroen Ketting’s article in the AEB Business quarterly. For the full text, follow this link.