#5 - JRL 7180
May 13, 2003
HOW RUSSIA WAS SHOWN ITS PLACE ... in the brave new world
A conference of Russian, European, and American political scientists and politicians
Author: Arkady Dubnov
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
THE FINEST MINDS OF RUSSIA, EUROPE, AND AMERICA GATHERED IN MOSCOW YESTERDAY TO DISCUSS RUSSIA'S PLACE IN THE MODERN WORLD. THEY INCLUDED FORMER CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY HELMUT KOHL, FORMER PRESIDENT OF FINLAND MARTI AHTISAARI, FOREIGN MINISTER IGOR IVANOV, AND A NUMBER OF TOP POLITICAL ANALYSTS.
The finest minds of Russia, Europe, and America gathered at the Balchug Hotel (Moscow) yesterday at the invitation of "Russia in Global Affairs" journal. As it happens, most of the guests are on the journal's editorial board; they include former Chancellor of Germany Helmut Kohl, former President of Finland Marti Ahtisaari, and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. This is the first time they have all met; and Sergei Karaganov (Chairman of the Foreign and Defense Policy Council. and one of the founders of the journal) and Editor-in-Chief Fedor Lukianov decided to put their collective intelligence to work: trying to define Russia's place in the brave new world. The conference that took place bore a similar title.
Had they recalled the eternal Russian questions, the conference would have been titled No Place For Russia in the Brave New World: Who Is To Blame, and What Is To Be Done?
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov was the first to answer questions. Ivanov placed all the blame on "the Cold War victory syndrome prevailing in Western capitals in the early 1990s." According to Ivanov, "it is this syndrome in particular that prevented timely modernization of multilateral structures and institutions of security, like NATO." That is why "the world is becoming less secure, while becoming more interdependent." Ivanov's thesis looked like an undisguised invitation to challenge its validity. If that was the ploy, it succeeded.
As one of the few active politicians among all those present, Ivanov did not stay to hear most of the rebuttals; he had to leave this ivory tower for the world of realpolitik.
Before leaving, however, Ivanov told the conference what he thought should be done: establishing "a new multipolar world order". Russia's top diplomat admitted that he was "aware of real difficulties here"; such as "the logic of force and unilateral actions disregarding the UN." Thus the conference was reminded of the topic of Iraq. Moving on to Russian-American relations, however, the minister mentioned quite amiably: "We did not act against each other in the midst of the Iraqi crisis. We promoted different solutions to a fairly complicated international problem." Ivanov got carried away here and explained that the opposite impression had been created by "certain articles in the media". He did not name the culprits.
Guests from France also wanted everything out in the open. Professor Thierry de Montbrial, founder and director of the French Institute of International Relations, was highly emotional, in true Gallic fashion. "Neither Moscow nor Paris ever considered an anti- American axis. No!" he exclaimed. The French political scientist agreed that world has indeed become monopolar. He admitted that talking about multipolar worlds was all very well, of course, but what was the point - since America's military spending exceeds that of all other nations combined. Thierry de Montbrial also admitted, however, that "the Americans do not want a multipolar world"; while "their preemptive action in Iraq was alien to UN philosophy."
The Americans were represented by US Ambassador Alexander Vershbow and James Hogue, Foreign Affairs Editor-in-Chief. They did not rise to the bait.
Vershbow merely announced that Washington's help to Russia when it joined the G-8, and the establishment of the Russia-NATO Council, were unquestionable indications that the United States is eager to see a multipolar world. He made it clear quite tactfully that with the Iraq crisis over, America is expecting assistance from Russia in dealing with the threats posed by Iran (advancing its nuclear weapons program), North Korea (all but possessing nuclear weapons already), and the Mideast (with its Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists).
Hogue explained that "the United States has already recognized the importance of Russia, and the fact that it should not be rejected." Having made this overture to the Kremlin, Hogue reiterated the famous phrase coined by Condolleezza Rice with regard to the European Fronde: "France to be punished, Germany ignored, and Russia forgiven."
Following that, Russian political scientists did their best to finally clarify Russia's place in the greater scheme of things.
Sergei Karaganov reminded the conference that he had always condemned the French-German-Russian alliance as "politics of the past", while "the politics of the future, or Atlantic partnership" was actually needed.
Politics Foundation President Vyacheslav Nikonov agreed with Karaganov, saying: "Russia should side with America unless it wants to be among the losers." Nikonov went on to say: "The German Social Democrats' idea of setting up an international tribunal for Chechnya is the only result of Russia's alliance with France and Germany."
Even Mikhail Margelov of the Federation Council berated the Europeans. "There is nothing to show for Russia - European Union cooperation," he said. "All the new members of the European Union have been doing is creating new visa problems for us!"
Karaganov added: "No progress has been made in this sphere since President Putin named it as one of Moscow's priorities two years ago."
That was when European ranks began to crumble. The Russian speakers got some support from Horst Telchik, once Kohl's foreign policy adviser. "Stop placing all blame on the United States," he said. "We ourselves have destroyed European unity. The alliance of the three was laughable, because it was pitiful." Was his statement an echo of domestic polemics between German Christian Democrats and the ruling Social Democrats? No one can say. It was then that Telchik showed Russia and Europe their place in the world. "Only with America, and not without it."
Even Telchik's former boss spoke up. "Gentlemen," said Kohl, "anyone who plays the European card needs patience, patience, and more patience. These are not my words. These are the words of Konrad Adenauer, the Chancellor of Germany who stood at the beginning of European integration."
This report on the conference would be incomplete without a reference to the words of Marti Ahtisaari. Without dwelling on the European-American polemics, the former president of Finland tactfully and clearly sent a signal to all current and future "rogue states". Ahtisaari said: "When fundamental human rights are abused in some countries, their governments should not talk about intervention in their affairs being unacceptable, referring to sovereignty." And he added, without raising his voice: "Otherwise, we will have to revise this principle of international law." That is a fine principle, considering that two months ago Ahtisaari became the representative of the OSCE chairman in Central Asia. He will have an audience in Central Asia for this idea. Ahtisaari will visit Turkmenistan in late May.