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#15 - JRL 7129
April 2, 2003
UN Reform Not in Russia's Interests

Discussions concerning the role of the United Nations in today's world and the possible reforming of the organisation in the near future are gaining momentum in connection with the situation in Iraq. Vyacheslav Nikonov, President of the 'Politics' Foundation, offers Rosbalt his comments concerning the different viewpoints.

- Mr. Nikonov, talk about the necessity of reforming UN has continued for quite a while. Is there a probability of this happening in the near future?

- First of all, we should calm down because nothing special is happening with or around the UN at this time. Just thrice in the whole history of the organisation, has anyone bothered at all to ask for the UN Security Council's consent for military action. Each time, it was the US that asked for and was granted such consent. The UN was left out of whatever else happened. Generally speaking, the adherence of the world to International Law is a myth people remember about only when it is convenient. Strong nations have always made their decisions based on their interests or whatever they thought was in their interests. The Soviet Union never once brought its plans to the UN Security Council. Just remember Afghanistan. Of course, this is not too good, but such is reality. This is the way it has always been and will continue to be.

As to the idea of reforming the UN, I do not think this is a good time for it. In any event, Russia should neither initiate this nor, particularly, insist on it. I say so because, should it happen, Russia will lose a lot.

One should remember that the UN, the way it is now, was created after WW2, when the Soviet Union, along with the US and Great Britain, was a victor the post-war world arrangement greatly depended upon. At this time, Russia is not strong enough to dictate anything that's in her interests. This is to say that her interests may be simply ignored.

Indeed, there has been a lot of talk in the US, and not just there, about reforming the UN. Questions have been asked like "Why is Russia a permanent member of the Security Council? Is it because there are so many people there? There are more people in India, wouldn't you agree? Last year's census showed less people in Russia than in Pakistan.' Economic arguments are not in our favour either.

In general, America believes that there is a world government and it works in three places: the White House, the US Treasury Department, and the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund, all three located in Washington, D.C.

This is to say that Russia, of all countries, should try and make damn sure no one reforms the United Nations any time soon.

- Beside the idea of reforming the UN, the opinion has been voiced increasingly often that the illusions concerning the influence of international institutions based on humanitarian agreements are gone. Do you think that some other institutions based on economic interests may possibly be more effective? In this connection, the G-8 is mentioned as more appropriate to the modern world.

- Of course, the G-8 is more appropriate. Yet it has not been institutionalised yet. It must be somehow legitimised and, by the way, expanded.

- Do you think attempts are possible to, let us say, speed up the creation of a multi-polar world?

- What do you mean by "speed up the creation of a multi-polar world'? For the world to become multi-polar new poles are needed first. At this time, there are none. The European Union could become such a pole, but for that it needs to unite first, while at this time it is split. And again, we understand a multi-polar world as a certain counterbalance to the US. Then what country, do you think, is ready to play this role? Not France and not Germany. They are allies rather than rivals. China? No. China's strategic priority, official by the way, is anything but opposing the US. Of course, there is a lot of opposition, maybe even the greatest opposition of the 21st century, in their strategic partnership. However, the century is just beginning.

- There is talk about a strategic partnership with the US among Russia's officialdom too. Do you think that the US' latest official statement, to the effect that Washington respects Russia's position concerning Iraq and believes that the difference in opinion will not cardinally affect the relationship of partnership between the two countries - is just talk? Or may one take the words 'Relations with Russia are too important to the US to be spoiled over Iraq' at face value?

- The overall attitude of the US toward Russia is rather balanced. Russia is very lucky that France took most of the heat, meaning the reaction of the US government and public. Yet I think that the situation around Iraq will still create certain negative consequences, as concerns relations between the US and Russia. I just do not think these consequences will be advertised. I even think that George Bush will come to St. Petersburg for the city's tercentenary, unless, of course, something extraordinary happens during the remaining time, such as some splash out of our State Duma.

- There is very little time remaining before the tercentenary festivities. Are you sure that the war in Iraq will be over that soon?

- I do not think the war will last longer than three weeks. I envision the following developments: the US will block the most important towns of Iraq without entering them. Saddam Hussein will be deprived of every way of broadcasting his side of the story. Totally different people will begin broadcasting at the wavebands Iraqis are used to. The set up of the new al-Arabia TV company, which is being created in a hurry to counterbalance al-Jazeera, will be completed soon.

Very soon, they will tell their listeners and viewers that Saddam Hussein is dead and a number of certain Iraqis will "take responsibility for the country'. A new army will be created out of prisoners of war, officers and men whose salaries and ranks will be raised before they are sent into action. Then everything will be over in no time. This new army will enter the towns, which, until that time, will be bombed by the allies - with amazing accuracy and amazingly few casualties.

And this new Iraqi leadership is going to be a very difficult partner in a dialogue with Russia, because all her resources, as the situation is concerned, our country spent supporting Saddam Hussein.

-You, in effect, are saying that Vladimir Posner, who, in his latest TV programme, said that the times we are living through are so detestable that only eating a live toad could be worse, was right.

- Well, all I can say to this is that we should more often think of the monkeys from Chinese proverbs.

The interviewer was Natalia Starichkova, Rosbalt News Agency Translated by Alex Nemtsev

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