On October 1, Turkey and six other countries of the US-led coalition published a joint declaration expressing concern over Russia Air Force strikes against the militants in Syria. The signatories include the United States of America (as expected), the monarchies of Persian Gulf (Saudi Arabia and Qatar that were also expected to join), as well as Great Britain, Germany and France.
The statement actually does not say anything extraordinary. Russia stole the initiative from the West. Instead of following the example of «anti-terrorist coalition» and delivering strikes against Syria’s government forces (which together with Kurds conduct combat actions against the militants of so-called Islamic State), Russia bombed the positions of the terrorists. It allowed the legitimate Syrian government to regroup forces, get a break and finally launch a ground offensive to clear the territory from the terrorist plague.
The expression of concern by the United States is logical and natural: Washington has spent great effort to train the «moderate» Syrian opposition (which mysteriously has turned into a source of weapons and manpower for «immoderate» groups). The start of the Russian operation may incur direct financial losses, let alone damage the image of the US.
There is nothing surprising in the fact that the monarchies of Persian Gulf – Saudi Arabia and Qatar – were eager to sign the statement. One may forget what country Osama bin Laden and the majority of terrorists, who seized the aircraft on September 11, 2001, came from. But it’s impossible to reject the fact that the Gulf monarchies (no matter all the real or imaginary contradictions and disagreements dividing them) are the main sponsors of major terrorist groups operating in the Greater Middle East – from Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and, especially, in Pakistan. In case of Saudi Arabia the overthrow of Bashar Assad is just the first step on the way to do away with Iran, its main opponent in the region.
It’s easy to explain why the declaration was initiated by Turkey. Ankara views the Islamic State as the only force able to nip in the bud the aspiration of Kurds, the divided people, for statehood. It makes pale such things of ‘little importance’ like cheap oil exported by militants from Iraq and Syria with Turkey being the main customer.
It’s worth to mention the position of Europe. The fact that London signed the declaration can be explained by the inability of the 51st US state to stop playing the role of American poodle on a leash. It obediently dances to the US tune. The participation of France and Germany seems to be a bit irrational.
So many things have happened in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Berlin and Paris could have realized that the events seemingly not interconnected meet the logic of US strategy aimed at creating an axis of instability. Its only goal is to preserve the unipolar world where West Europe plays the role of a passive satellite, not an independent actor.
The events in Ukraine occurred exactly when a Europe-Russia energy alliance started to loom and the US-led talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership got stalled. Just a coincidence, of course.
All these events let the United States to partially achieve the main goal – it has succeeded in driving a wedge between Europe and Russia, but the talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership did not make much progress. The United States had another ace up its sleeve. The civil war in Syria gave rise to the massive migrant flows threatening the very foundation of the European civilization and making European allies meekly ask the big brother overseas for help.
Russia’s resolute actions in Syria leave no chance for these plans. Supposedly, Europeans should breathe a sigh of relief. But it has not happened as yet.
What is the reason? Has the habit to snap to attention become so deeply enrooted? Have the Europeans left any thoughts about having a choice? Some analysts believe that the US National Security Agency has acquired serious compromising material to blackmail European leaders into agreement with Washington.
The hope is still looming that after some time Europe will realize where its real interests lie. The abovementioned declaration of the seven looks more like a creation of a new instrument of Washington. This time it has the form of an international alliance to support terrorists of the so-called Islamic State.
The development came after President Bashar al-Assad in a televised address in July pardoned all soldiers who have fled the army, saying that his words served as a general decree to relevant officials.
Hundreds of gunmen have been laying down their weapons and turning themselves in to authorities in areas across the country.
This number seems to be on the rise as the army has been making steady gains in the battlefield against the terrorist groups, recapturing an increasing number of regions, including strategic sites, which helped cut off many of the militants’ supply routes and forced them to surrender or run away.
Also in the past 24 hours, the Syrian air raids destroyed concentration centers of the ISIL, al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups in Hama and Idlib.
The Syrian warplanes conducted airstrikes against positions of ISIL and the so-called Jeish al-Fath terrorists in the countryside of Hama and Idlib.
The airstrikes hit positions of the ISIL terrorists in al-Rahjan village, 50 km to the Northeast of Hama City, destroying a number of terrorists’ vehicles with all arms, ammunition and equipment on board.
The airstrikes also hit positions of al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups in Aqrab village in the Southwestern countryside of Hama, killing scores of terrorists.
A number of vehicles belonging to Jeish al-Fath terrorists were also destroyed in airstrikes in Abdin village in the countryside of Ma’aret al-Nu’aman in Idlib countryside.
Meantime, the Syrian fighter jets pounded hideouts of the Takfiri militants in the countryside of Homs.
The Syrian air raids destroyed Takfiri terrorists’ hideouts and vehicles in al-Qaryatain, al-Sa’an, and in the vicinity of al-Sha’er field in Homs countryside.
The Russian air group in Syria is using Kh-29L air-to-surface missiles to conduct airstrikes against the ISIL militants, the Russian military said Sunday.
“A Kh-29L surface-to-air missile is equipped with a semi-active laser guidance system. When the launch is conducted, a pilot illuminates a target with a laser sight. At the same time an aircraft can continue the flight,” Aerospace Forces Spokesman Colonel Igor Klimov said.
Also, the Syrian army conducted military operations against the foreign-backed Takfiri militants in Aleppo province, leaving hundreds of them killed and injured.
Hundreds of terrorists were killed or wounded in Aleppo City and its countryside in the past 24 hours, a military source said.
Elsewhere, at least 28 militant fighters of the ISIL terrorist group were killed during clashes with the Kurdish forces in the Northeastern Syrian province of Hasaka.
“The YPG forces besieged the ISIL militants near Mount Abdulaziz and killed dozens of terrorists and destroyed several vehicles,” a spokesman for the YPG Media Center told ARA News.
Also, gunmen from the Jeish al-Fath coalition of extremist groups are pulling out their forces from Idlib and other towns in Northwestern Syria.
The radical group started moving towards the Turkish border on Saturday after having experienced “the efficiency of the Russian aerospace forces’ strikes,” the As-Safir Arabic-language daily reported.
The coalition is led by al-Nusra terrorist group, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, which is sponsored by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar. The group seized the Idlib province this spring.
The report said field commanders fear at any moment the attack of Syrian forces supported by Russian warplanes on the key town of Jisr al-Shugour, on the Lattakia-Aleppo highway.
Madame Merkel attended on 6 February the 6-7 February NATO security Conference in Munich. Then, not listening to what Mr. Lavrov had to say to the conference on 7 February, she jetted with ‘General’ (as in Napoleon) Hollande of France to Moscow to meet ‘urgently’ with Mr. Putin on 7 February to initiate new peace / truce talks on Ukraine. Keeping the results largely under wraps, not to divulge to her own people or the rest of Europe, she stopped briefly over in Germany where she finally talked to Sergei Lavrov, before jetting on to emperor Obama for reporting and consulting.
What does the master say? We don’t know yet – eagerly awaiting the mainstream media spin. It should be hitting us shortly. – Next stop Minsk. Merkel with Holland in tow, for talks with Putin and Poroshenko. What else is new? Poroshenko can’t budge without a nod from Washington – which he will not get, of course. Peace is not part of Obama’s and his henchmen’s game plan. He needs war, and he wants Ukraine.
Does this look like a serious attempt by Europe to reach peace in Ukraine or sheer propaganda? – Taking hapless Hollande along to Moscow and Minsk, makes it look graver, more serious, but is likely just another propaganda stunt, replaying the odd, old German- French tandem; of course, as a new lie campaign, eventually serving to vilify Vladimir Putin. If it all fails. And fail it will, since Washington has no intention to reach an agreement.
The Kremlin will not give in handing over Ukraine on a silver platter to the emperor and his European vassals, nor on any platter for that matter. And rightly so. Everybody knows that, except for the msm-enslaved populace; a vast majority. Unfortunately.
Almost certainly, Mr. Putin stressed again, what he said since the beginning of the conflict, that there are no Russian troops fighting in Ukraine, humanitarian aid is all that Russia delivers to the cruelly bombed and massacred people of Neorussia, the Donbass area. This was recently confirmed by Chief of Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, General Viktor Muzhenko – http://www.globalresearch.ca/ukrainian-government-no-russian-troops-are-fighting-against-us-sanctions-against-russia-based-on-falshoods/5428523.
Of course, no msm has picked up this little detail. How could they? It would throw out all justification for western sanctions – and it would lay bare the western, Washington-driven lies about Russian military intervention in Ukraine. People may start wondering, who if not Russia, is responsible for the bloody civil war in Ukraine, that has already left more than 5,400 people dead, hundreds of thousands without shelter and heating in the midst of winter – and millions of refugees? – And for downing the Malaysian airliner MH17? – Could we have been hoodwinked by the Empire of Chaos and its European vassals?
Mr. Putin may also have laid out to the odd couple, Merkel-Hollande, what he did since the beginning of the conflict as a condition of peace, or at least a truce – a relative large autonomy for eastern Ukraine, with Russian as an official language – and NO NATO base in Ukraine.
That sounds very reasonable, given the fact that the war was entirely instigated and the Nazi putsch government (sic) put in place by Washington. Madame Nuland, Kerry’s sidekick, testified to this in a telephone conversation on January 28, 2014, about three weeks before the coup, with US ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt. The conversation was published on YouTube. She knew whom she wanted to replace the democratically elected Victor Yanukovitsch with, namely with “Yats”, as she calls him endearingly, the ultra-right wing, fascist Arseniy Yatsenuik, today’s PM of the Kiev junta of thugs and murderers. She later bragged about it at the Washington Press Club.
Again, the msm-lie and deceit machine is as of this day silent about it, lest Mr. Putin could no longer be demonized and his country ‘sanctioned’ – sanctions, which badly backfire especially on Europe – who has built up close and friendly business and trade relationships with Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This was a logical step, not only from a geographic point of view; but also seen from an economic development ‘growth’ perspective.
Now – is Ms. Merkel seriously brokering for peace, because the German economy and the Euro may be at stake if Germany is shut out of Russia and the rest of the Eastern markets – all of Central Asia and China?
Keep in mind, there is already the Eurasian Customs Union, to become the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) as of 2015, with the member states including Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. In addition, there is the overlapping Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, with potentially new members of Afghanistan, Iran, Mongolia, and Pakistan.
Turkey and India are also SCO contenders, but with India betraying the BRICS and seemingly rapidly defecting into the lush neoliberal Obama camp, and Turkey being torn apart, on the one hand as Europe’s key NATO base, and on the other, disgusted by Europe and increasingly leaning towards Russia and China – their SCO membership remains in suspense for now.
The SCO, created in 2001, is a politico-economic and military association. Together the EEC and the SCO account for about 25% of the world population and close to 30% of the world’s economic output. The eastern alliance under Russian-Chinese leadership is well on course of establishing its own monetary system, detached from the fraudulent dollar scheme.
Then there are the remaining BRICS, plus Argentina, Venezuela and possibly others that would gladly be migrating out of Washington’s oppressive fangs into a friendly economic environment, where national sovereignty still counts and is respected.
Given all these facts, is it too farfetched to assume that Madame Merkel may have seen the light after all, racing to Obama, telling him the obvious? That without a change of Washington’s policy towards Russia not only the European economy may collapse, but that the US economy may not survive either? – That with WWIII or even a new Cold War over Ukraine, the world as we know it may eclipse? – That he, Mr. Obama, the emperor of the exceptional nation, should put his bets on other horses than conflict and eternal war, and instead start thinking of peace and cooperation?
It would be fair to assume that Washington knows all that. There has been a pattern for the last 35 years, the hegemonic implementation of a neoliberal dogma; controlling energy, food, money and people under a one world order, be it as it may, through financial and economic subjugation as with Greece and other southern European states, or with endless outright military aggression directly or by proxy (as in bought (mis)leaders and mercenaries), à la Afghanistan, Iraq, Indonesia, Libya, Pakistan, Syria, Sudan, Thailand, Yemen, and-so-on – and Ukraine. They, the master and his cronies, will not let go, no matter what concessions Putin would be willing to make. Pursuit of the PNAC’s (Plan for a New American Century) objective, Full Spectrum Dominance, knows no mercy. Obama himself is a mere marionette of corporate empire, led by the military industrial complex and the Zionist-Anglo-Saxon banking system.
Madame Merkel, regardless of the tenor and contents of your discussion in Washington, it is up to you, whether you want to lead Europe out of her conundrum – of her wavering between prosperity and submission – between war and peace.
Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik News, the Voice of Russia / Ria Novosti, TeleSur, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe.
Remarks by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the XXII Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, Moscow, 22 November 2014
I’m happy to be at this annual Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy (Russian abbreviation SVOP). It is always a great pleasure for me to meet people and feel the intellectual potential, which enables the Council, its leaders and representatives to respond to global developments and analyse them. Their analysis is always free from any hysteria, and its members offer well-grounded and solid arguments, taking a step back, since those caught in the midst of events can hardly adopt an unbiased perspective. We are inevitably influenced by the developments, which makes your observations, analysis, discourse and suggestions even more valuable to us.
As far as I know, this year’s Assembly will focus on prospects for accelerating domestic growth in Russia. There is no doubt that concerted efforts by our society as a whole to bring about comprehensive economic, social and spiritual development are a prerequisite for making Russia’s future sustainable. That said, by virtue of my professional duties, I have to focus on foreign policy issues, which are still relevant for the Assembly’s agenda, since in this interconnected, globalised world, isolating internal development from the outside world is impossible.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin provided a detailed analysis of the international developments at the Valdai Club meeting in Sochi, as well as in his interviews during his trip to Asia. For this reason, I won’t offer any conceptual observations, as everything has already been said. Nevertheless, I would like to share with you some considerations based on our day-to-day foreign policy efforts. It is not my intention to deliver a comprehensive or clear outlook, since at this stage all forecasts are provisional, no matter who makes them. Moreover, diplomats seek to influence developments as they unfold, not contemplate them.
Naturally, I will start with Ukraine. Long before the country was plunged into the crisis, there was a feeling in the air that Russia’s relations with the EU and with the West were about to reach their moment of truth. It was clear that we could no longer continue to put issues in our relations on the back burner and that a choice had to be made between a genuine partnership or, as the saying goes, “breaking pots.” It goes without saying that Russia opted for the former alternative, while unfortunately our Western partners settled for the latter, whether consciously or not. In fact, they went all out in Ukraine and supported extremists, thereby giving up their own principles of democratic regime change. What came out of it was an attempt to play chicken with Russia, to see who blinks first. As bullies say, they wanted to Russia to “chicken out” (I can’t find a better word for it), to force us to swallow the humiliation of Russians and native speakers of Russian in Ukraine.
Honourable Leslie Gelb, whom you know all too well, wrote that Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the EU had nothing to do with inviting Ukraine to join the EU and was aimed in the short term at preventing it from joining the Customs Union. This is what an impartial and unbiased person said. When they deliberately decided to go down the path of escalation in Ukraine, they forgot many things, and had a clear understanding of how such moves would be viewed in Russia. They forgot the advice of, say, Otto von Bismarck, who had said that disparaging the millions-strong great Russian people would be the biggest political mistake.
President Vladimir Putin said the other day that no one in history has yet managed to subjugate Russia to its influence. This is not an assessment, but a statement of fact. Yet such an attempt has been made to quench the thirst for expanding the geopolitical space under Western control, out of a mercantile fear to lose the spoils of what they across the Atlantic had persuaded themselves was the victory in the Cold War.
The plus of today’s situation is that everything has clicked into its place and the calculus behind the West’s actions has been revealed despite its professed readiness to build a security community, a common European home. To quote (singer/song-writer) Bulat Okudzhava, “The past is getting clearer and clearer.” The clarity is becoming more tangible. Today our task is not only to sort out the past (although that must be done), but most importantly, to think about the future.
Talks about Russia’s isolation do not merit serious discussion. I need hardly dwell on this before this audience. Of course, one can damage our economy, and damage is being done, but only by doing harm to those who are taking corresponding measures and, equally important, destroying the system of international economic relations, the principles on which it is based. Formerly, when sanctions were applied (I worked at the Russian mission to the UN at the time) our Western partners, when discussing the DPRK, Iran or other states, said that it was necessary to formulate the restrictions in such a way as to keep within humanitarian limits and not to cause damage to the social sphere and the economy, and to selectively target only the elite. Today everything is the other way around: Western leaders are publicly declaring that the sanctions should destroy the economy and trigger popular protests. So, as regards the conceptual approach to the use of coercive measures the West unequivocally demonstrates that it does not merely seek to change Russian policy (which in itself is illusory), but it seeks to change the regime — and practically nobody denies this.
President Vladimir Putin, speaking with journalists recently, said that today’s Western leaders have a limited planning horizon. Indeed, it is dangerous when decisions on key problems of the development of the world and humankind as a whole are taken on the basis of short electoral cycles: in the United States the cycle is two years and each time one has to think of or do something to win votes. This is the negative side of the democratic process, but we cannot afford to ignore it. We cannot accept the logic when we are told to resign, relax and take it as a given that everyone has to suffer because there are elections in the United States every two years. This is just not right. We will not resign ourselves to this because the stakes are too high in the fight against terror, the threats of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and many bloody conflicts whose negative impact goes far beyond the framework of the corresponding states and regions. The wish to do something to gain unilateral advantages or to endear oneself to the electorate ahead of another election leads to chaos and confusion in international relations.
We hear the daily repeated mantra that Washington is aware of its own exclusiveness and its duty to bear this burden, to lead the rest of the world. Rudyard Kipling spoke about “the white man’s burden.” I hope that this is not what drives Americans. The world today is not white or black, but multi-coloured and heterogeneous. Leadership in this world can be assured not by persuading oneself of one’ exclusiveness and God-given duty to be responsible for everyone, but only by the ability and craft in forming a consensus. If the US partners committed their power to this goal, this would be priceless, and Russia would be actively helping them.
However, so far, US administrative resources still work only in the NATO framework, and then with substantial reservations, and its writ does not reach beyond the North Atlantic Alliance. One proof of this is the results of US attempts to make the world community follow its line in connection with the anti-Russian sanctions and principles. I have spoken about it more than once and we have ample proof of the fact that American ambassadors and envoys across the world seek meetings at the highest level to argue that the corresponding countries are obliged to punish Russia together with them or else face the consequences. This is done with regard to all countries, including our closest allies (this speaks volumes about the kind of analysts Washington has). An overwhelming majority of the states with which we have a continuing dialogue without any restrictions and isolation, as you see, value Russia’s independent role in the international arena. Not because they like it when somebody challenges the Americans, but because they realise that the world order will not be stable if nobody is allowed to speak his mind (although privately the overwhelming majority do express their opinion, but they do not want to do so publicly for fear of Washington’s reprisals).
Many reasonable analysts understand that there is a widening gap between the global ambitions of the US Administration and the country’s real potential. The world is changing and, as has always happened in history, at some point somebody’s influence and power reach their peak and then somebody begins to develop still faster and more effectively. One should study history and proceed from realities. The seven developing economies headed by BRICS already have a bigger GDP than the Western G7. One should proceed from the facts of life, and not from a misconceived sense of one’s own grandeur.
It has become fashionable to argue that Russia is waging a kind of “hybrid war” in Crimea and in Ukraine. It is an interesting term, but I would apply it above all to the United States and its war strategy – it is truly a hybrid war aimed not so much at defeating the enemy militarily as at changing the regimes in the states that pursue a policy Washington does not like. It is using financial and economic pressure, information attacks, using others on the perimeter of a corresponding state as proxies and of course information and ideological pressure through externally financed non-governmental organisations. Is it not a hybrid process and not what we call war? It would be interesting to discuss the concept of the hybrid war to see who is waging it and is it only about “little green men.”
Apparently the toolkit of our US partners, who have become adept at using it, is much larger.
In attempting to establish their pre-eminence at a time when new economic, financial and political power centres are emerging, the Americans provoke counteraction in keeping with Newton’s third law and contribute to the emergence of structures, mechanisms, and movements that seek alternatives to the American recipes for solving the pressing problems. I am not referring to anti-Americanism, still less about forming coalitions spearheaded against the United States, but only about the natural wish of a growing number of countries to secure their vital interests and do it the way they think right, and not what they are told “from across the pond.” Nobody is going to play anti-US games just to spite the United States. We face attempts and facts of extra-territorial use of US legislation, the kidnapping of our citizens in spite of existing treaties with Washington whereby these issues are to be resolved through law enforcement and judicial bodies.
According to its doctrine of national security, the United States has the right to use force anywhere, anytime without necessarily asking the UN Security Council for approval. A coalition against the Islamic State was formed unbeknownst to the Security Council. I asked Secretary of State John Kerry why have not they gone to the UN Security Council for this.
He told me that if they did, they would have to somehow designate the status of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. Of course, they had to because Syria is a sovereign state and still a member of the UN (no one excluded it from UN membership). The secretary of state said it was wrong because the United States is combating terrorism and the al-Assad regime is the most important factor that galvanises terrorists from around the world and acts as a magnet attracting them to this region in an attempt to overthrow the Syrian regime.
I believe this is perverse logic. If we are talking about precedents (the United States adheres to case law), it is worth remembering the chemical disarmament in Syria when the Assad regime was a completely legitimate partner of the United States, Russia, the OPCW and others. The Americans maintain talks with the Taliban as well. Whenever the United States has an opportunity to benefit from something, it acts quite pragmatically. I’m not sure why the ideologically-driven position took the upper hand this time and the United States chose to believe that Assad cannot be a partner. Perhaps, this is not so much an operation against the Islamic State as paving the way for toppling al-Assad under the guise of a counter-terrorist operation.
Francis Fukuyama recently wrote the book, Political Order and Political Decay, in which he argues that the efficiency of public administration in the United States is declining and the traditions of democratic governance are gradually being replaced with feudal fiefdom ruling methods. This is part of the discussion about someone who lives in a glass house and throws stones.
All of this is happening amid the mounting challenges and problems of the modern world. We are seeing a continued “tug of war” in Ukraine. Trouble is brewing on the south border of the EU. I don’t think the Middle Eastern and North African problems will go away all by themselves. The EU has formed a new commission. New foreign actors have emerged, who will face a serious fight for where to send their basic resources: either for the continuation of reckless schemes in Ukraine, Moldova, etc., within the Eastern Partnership (as advocated by an aggressive minority in the EU), or they will listen to the Southern European countries and focus on what’s happening on the other side of the Mediterranean.
This is a major issue for the EU.
So far, those who are not guided by real problems, but rather by a desire to quickly grab things from freshly turned up ground. It is deplorable. Exporting revolutions – be they democratic, communist or others – never brings any good.
State, public and civilisational structures are actually disintegrating in the MENA region. The destructive energy released in the process can scorch states that are located far beyond this region. Terrorists (including the Islamic State) are claiming a national status. Moreover, they are already beginning to create quasi-governmental bodies there that engage in the administrative work.
On this backdrop, minorities, including Christians, are banished. In Europe, these issues are deemed not politically correct. They are ashamed when we invite them to do something about it together at the OSCE. They wonder why would we focus specifically on Christians? How is that special? The OSCE has held a series of events dedicated to keeping memories about the Holocaust and its victims alive. A few years ago, the OSCE started holding events against Islamophobia. We will be offering an analysis of the processes leading to Christianophobia.
On 4-5 December, OSCE ministerial meetings will be held in Basel, where we will present this proposal. The majority of EU member states elude this topic, because they are ashamed to talk about it. Just as they were ashamed to include in what was then the EU constitution drafted by Valery Giscard d’Estaing a phrase that Europe has Christian roots.
If you don’t remember or respect your own roots and traditions, how would you respect the traditions and values of other people? This is straightforward logic. Comparing what’s happening now in the Middle East to a period of religious wars in Europe, Israeli political scientist Avineri said that the current turmoil is unlikely to end with what the West means when it says “democratic reforms.”
The Arab-Israeli conflict is dead in the water. It’s hard to play on several boards at a time. The Americans are trying to accomplish this, but it doesn’t work for them. In 2013, they took nine months to sort out the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I will not go into the reasons, they are known, but they failed at this as well. Now, they asked for more time to try to achieve some progress before the end of 2014, so that the Palestinians wouldn’t go to the UN and sign the Statute of the International Criminal Court, etc. Suddenly, it transpired that negotiations on Iran are underway. The US State Department dumped Palestine to focus on Iran.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and I agreed to talk on this subject some time soon. It’s important to understand that you can’t keep the problem of the Palestinian state deeply frozen forever. Failure to resolve it for nearly 70 years has been a major argument of those who recruit extremists in their ranks, “there’s no justice: it was promised to create two states; the Jewish one was created, but they will never create an Arab state.” Used on a hungry Arab street, these arguments sound quite plausible, and they start calling for a fight for justice using other methods.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the Valdai Club meeting in Sochi that we need a new version of interdependence. This was a very topical statement. The leading powers must return to the negotiating table and agree on a new framework that takes into account the basic legitimate interests of all the key parties (I can’t tell you what it should be called, but it should be based on the UN Charter), to agree on reasonable self-imposed restrictions and collective risk management in a system of international relations underpinned by democratic values. Our Western partners promote respect for the rule of law, democracy and minority opinion within countries, while failing to stand up for the same values in international affairs. This leaves Russia as a pioneer in promoting democracy, justice and rule of international law. A new world order can only be polycentric and should reflect the diversity of cultures and civilisations in today’s world.
You are aware of Russia’s commitment to ensuring indivisibility of security in international affairs and holding it in international law. I won’t elaborate on this.
I would like to support the point the SVOP has been making that Russia won’t succeed in becoming a major, successful and confident power of the 21st century without developing its eastern regions. Sergei Karaganov was among the first to conceptualise this idea, and I fully agree. Taking Russia’s relations with the Asia Pacific countries to a new level is an absolute priority. Russia worked along these lines at the Beijing APEC meeting and the G20 forum. We will continue moving in this direction in the new environment created by the upcoming launch of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) on 1 January 2015.
We have been treated as “subhumans.” For over a decade, Russia has been trying to establish partnership ties with NATO through CSTO. These efforts were not just about putting NATO and CSTO “in the same league.” As a matter of fact, CSTO is focused on catching drug dealers and illegal migrants around the Afghan border, and the North-Atlantic Treaty Organisation is the backbone of the international security forces, which, among other things, were tasked with fighting the terrorist threat and eliminating its financing schemes, which involve drug trafficking. We tried everything: we pleaded and then demanded real-time contact, so that once NATO detects a caravan transporting drugs and is unable to stop it, it alerts us across the border, so that this caravan could be intercepted by CSTO forces. They simply refused to talk to us. In private conversations, our NATO well-wishers (and I actually mean this in the positive way) told us that the alliance can’t view CSTO as an equal partner for ideological reasons. Until recently, we saw the same condescending and arrogant attitude with respect to the Eurasian economic integration. And that despite the fact that countries intending to join the EAEU have much more in common in terms of their economies, history and culture than many EU members. This union is not about creating barriers with anyone. We always stress how open this union is expected to be. I strongly believe that it will make a significant contribution to building a bridge between Europe and Asia Pacific.
I can’t fail to mention Russia’s comprehensive partnership with China. Important bilateral decisions have been taken, paving the way to an energy alliance between Russia and China. But there’s more to it. We can now even talk about the emerging technology alliance between the two countries. Russia’s tandem with Beijing is a crucial factor for ensuring international stability and at least some balance in international affairs, as well as ensuring the rule of international law. We will make full use of our relations with India and Vietnam, Russia’s strategic partners, as well as the ASEAN countries. We are also open to expanding cooperation with Japan, if our Japanese neighbours can look at their national interests and stop looking back at some overseas powers.
There is no doubt that the European Union is our largest collective partner. No one intends to “shoot himself in the foot” by renouncing cooperation with Europe, although it is now clear that business as usual is no longer an option. This is what our European partners are telling us, but neither do we want to operate the old way. They believed that Russia owed them something, while we want to be on an equal footing. For this reason, things will never be the same again. That said, I’m confident that we will be able to overcome this period, lessons will be learned and a new foundation for our relations will emerge.
The idea of creating a single economic and humanitarian space from Lisbon to Vladivostok can now be heard here and there and is gaining traction. Germany’s Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has said publicly (while we have been saying it for a long time) that the EU and the EAEU should engage in dialogue. The statement President Vladimir Putin made in Brussels in January 2014, when he proposed the first step by launching negotiations on a free-trade zone between the EU and the Customs Union with an eye on 2020, is no longer viewed as something exotic. All of this has already become part of diplomacy and real politics. Although this is so far only a matter of discussion, I strongly believe that we will one day achieve what is called “the integration of integrations.” This is one of the key topics we want to promote within the OSCE at the Ministerial Council in Basel.
Russia is about to assume BRICS and SCO presidency. The two organisations will hold their summits in Ufa. These are very promising organisations for the new age. They are not blocks (especially BRICS), but groups where members share the same interests, representing countries from all continents that share common approaches regarding the future of the global economy, finance and politics.