The EU will maintain partnership relations with Russia based on pragmatic dialogue. In a nutshell, that is the outcome of the emergency EU summit that just ended in Brussels. The leaders of 27 European states discussed behind closed doors the EU’s future relationship with Russia in the wake of the recent tragic events in the Caucasus. Two main approaches were voiced at the meeting. The older EU members such as Germany, Italy, and France emphasised the importance of maintaining pragmatic relations and cooperation with Russia to avoid a new Cold War. This clashed with extremist demands by newer EU members demanding the “punishment” of Russia, to isolate it from the rest of Europe. This faction was headed by Poland, and they insisted that the EU introduce punitive sanctions against Russia and establish a coalition to counter Russia’s alleged “expansionism”.
This emotional outburst has no grounding in good-sense. The Poles received some backing from Britain, whose Prime Minister Gordon Brown insisted on suspending talks on a new partnership and cooperation agreement with Russia until Moscow pulls all its troops in Georgia back to their pre-7 August positions. This demand clashes with the truth. Mr Brown demands that Russian forces withdraw from Georgia. This is an odd ultimatum, since Russia’s EU ambassador Vladimir Chizhov earlier said that Russia had already pulled out its troops on schedule in keeping with the settlement plan agreed by Russian and French Presidents Dmitri Medvedev and Nicolas Sarkozy. He said that the EU was knocking on an already-open door.
When some at the EU summit spoke of the disproportionate use of force by Russia in the South Ossetian conflict zone, no one offered standards for such a statement. Very surprisingly, no one even bothered to recall why exactly Russian troops intervened in the conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia. Unfortunately, this was to due to the fact that some EU leaders were trying too hard to show their solidarity with the régime of Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili… Still, the opinion of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who said that the situation in Georgia was not reason enough to launch a new Cold War, that there are too many conflicts in the world at present, and it is senseless to add another, eventually prevailed at the summit.
In Moscow, Mikhail Margelov, an influential senator in the Federation Council (the upper house of the RF parliament: editor’s note), commented on the EU’s position on the matter. “No matter how hard Mr Saakashvili tries launching all kinds of PR campaigns; Georgia will never become a bone of contention between Russia and the European Union. In this particular case, the EU bureaucrats see no pragmatic reason whatsoever for antagonising Russia…” In any case, the EU remains a negotiating partner with Russia and is always ready to discuss any mutual problems that may arise. This is confirmed by the forthcoming visit to Moscow of French President Nicolas Sarkozy on 8 September. Speaking in anticipation of his trip, President Sarkozy described his meeting with Dmitri Medvedev as “decisive” and “all-important”.
2 September 2008
Voice of Russia World Service
This torpedoes the neocons for good and all. If they attempt to enflame such parties as Poland and the Baltic states, the older EU members shall form a new body excluding them. This is not outside the realm of possibility, and could become probable if the jingoistic rhetoric in Washington does not cease.
As for Poland, it has not gotten over 1612. In that year, Russian forces decisively whipped the Polish invaders and threw them out of Moscow. The Poles were brutes, pure and simple. They starved Patriarch St Germogen of Moscow to death. Just think of that! They did not have the decency and humanity to kill him outright, they put him to death by starvation, the slowest and most painful method possible. If there is Polish resentment of Russia, do recall that the Poles started the fight, and they were beaten in the end, mostly due to their stiff-necked and stubborn conceit. If you add such enormities as the attempted Polish imposition of the Unia at sword-point, one can see why the Russians had to resist them and throw them out. The Poles attempted to destroy our existence as a people (sounds like Hitler, does it not?). We shall never forget that. The EU should not listen to such sorts.
As for France, Russian troops are joining a French-led UN peacekeeping force in Chad. I don’t think that M Sarkozy is advocating a cordon sanitaire against Russia! As for Italy, Signore Berlusconi has made it clear that he opposes the American/British plans. Frau Merkel is a weak reed, her coalition is fragile, and the Greens could join a SPD coalition against her, they were in league with the SPD before, after all. Herr Schröder is laughing at her attempts to follow the Washington line in Georgia and the Ukraine.
Let’s end this with an interesting quote, and I’ll let you decide whether the “old EU” is America’s ally in this mess. Don’t forget, France has granted political asylum to one of Saakashvili’s main political opponents. Here is the quote from Asia Times:
“Saakashvili, the Russian argument runs, initiated military escalation over the past year because his political base has cracked and his domestic support is dwindling. The Georgian political opposition at home, and in exile abroad, agrees. They charge the president and his family, including the powerful Timur Alasaniya, Saakashvili’s uncle, of growing corruptly rich off the arms trade and of seizing the country’s resource, port, and trading concessions for themselves and their supporters. Alasaniya, brother to Saakashvili’s mother, holds the official position of Georgian representative to a United Nations Commission on Disarmament in New York (no relation to Irakly Alasaniya, Georgia’s ambassador to the United Nations).
The leaders of the Georgian opposition nearly succeeded in toppling Saakashvili last autumn. The president was forced to impose military rule in Tbilisi, while his former defence minister, Irakly Okruashvili, publicly accused him of murder and corruption. Okruashvili is currently in Paris, where he has been granted political asylum by the French government. In June, a French court rejected Saakashvili’s warrant for the arrest and extradition of his former friend and now bitterest critic. Okruashvili is uncompromised by early career links to Moscow, unlike a number of political party leaders in Tbilisi. Okruashvili is a likely candidate to replace Saakashvili, if and when Georgian public opinion turns against the president…”
The author, John Helmer, has been a Moscow-based correspondent since 1989, specialising in the coverage of Russian business.