THE WEST AND RUSSIA - IS A NEW START POSSIBLE?

THE WEST AND RUSSIA - IS A NEW START POSSIBLE?

Reflections on the occasion of a meeting of experts from Russia, USA, EU and the Balkans in Zagreb.

Consensus and Compromise

Both, the relationship between Russia and the West and the relationship inside the Transatlantic Community - between the EU and the USA - have changed dramatically in the past years. The EU has been built as a post - national community. National borders and cleavages as well as mere power plays must be overcome. Negotiations and compromises, on the basis of internationally designed rules, should in future be dominating in international relations. Inside the EU much progress has been made in that direction especially with the Lisbon Treaty confirming some clear community priorities.

Neutrality as a Model for the New Eastern Europe

Neutrality as a Model for the New Eastern Europe

Under some circumstances, the concept of neutrality could serve as a model for Central and Eastern European states. During the Cold War, neutral states managed to stay out of the spheres of influence created by the two military superpowers. There have been suggestions to create a “neutral belt” in the new Eastern Europe that has emerged between the EU/NATO and Russia. Neutrality could be a sustainable conceptual option also for the future. As a diplomatic solution, the Austrian model could be an interesting alternative for Ukraine. In its neutrality law of 1955, Austria agreed not to join a military alliance and not to allow any foreign military bases on its territory. Austria quickly adopted Western values and started a process of integration in the market economy, which eventually led to its accession to the European Union in the 1990s. This development was accepted by the Soviet Union, mainly because Austria did not become a member of NATO. A guarantee that Ukraine will not join a military alliance based on international law might be acceptable for Russia and Ukraine and its neighbors. In addition to affirming Austrian neutrality, the Austrian State Treaty also guaranteed that Austria would not join a new union with Germany (Anschluss), as had happened in 1938. Such a prohibition for Ukraine or parts of it, together with neutrality, could guarantee the unity of Ukraine if subsequently no foreign troops or militias would be deployed or active on Ukrainian soil. The same model of neutrality could be an interesting solution for Georgia. It could result in the withdrawal of all Russian troops from Georgia, including the provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which declared independence from Georgia. Moldova, which declared itself neutral in its constitution, could also consider a neutral status based on international law.

Noch ist der Balkan für die EU nicht verloren

Noch ist der Balkan für die EU nicht verloren

Belgrad, Thessaloniki und Athen waren meine jüngsten Reiseziele. Und immer ging es um den Balkan - und seine mögliche (oder sichere ? ) - Zukunft in der Europäischen Union. Weder die EU noch der Balkan (Western Balkans) sind in bester Verfassung. Und die meisten Menschen und dazu zählen auch die PolitikerInnen haben andere Sorgen als über den Beitritt der Süd- und Osteuropäischen Länder nachzudenken.

UKRAINE - IS THERE ONE(!) TRUTH?

No there is certainly not one truth, there never is. But in the case of Ukraine there are many truths and they are clearly expressed by different public and private personalities. The recent visit of our "Platform for Dialogue and Conflict Resolution in Ukraine" has proven the ambiguity of the situation in Ukraine again. The war in the eastern part of Ukraine and the occupation of the Crimea is always present. And that cannot be a surprise. For some it is an excuse not to touch other critical issues. Sometimes the lack of fundamental reforms and of a thorough fight against corruption is explained or even justified by the ongoing conflict with Russia and the separatists in the East. For others the war is the reason why issues of a modern society from feminism to human rights cannot be discussed in a proper way. This should be done when the war is over and especially when Ukraine has win this war - is the argument.