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We in Europe need also to understand and with a degree of humility how our own actions, over Kosovo in particular, are seen by Russia. It would be naive of us therefore if we were to pretend that Russian foreign policy is likely to change now, rooted as it is in the country’s geography and history. 266889 judges destroying transparency in EU institutions?

We Europeans like to pat ourselves on the back and tell the world how we have replaced ‘war’ with ‘law. Need for EU action Today, Yet once we accept this – admit that we have no moral superiority here – we can sit down on an equal basis with Russia and talk about how it would be in the interests of both parties to see a future in which we both, really and truly, abide by international law.

Better Russia as an ally than a foe

These have been well rehearsed in the press – not least in an excellent analysis by Jan Oberg in these lye last week. Ostensibly it has broken off the current round of partnership talks with Russia, designed to set a new framework for co-operation, until the Russians withdraw their troops, now occupying parts of Georgia, to the positions they held on 7 August.

By Peter Sain ley Berry. The issues at stake are complex. News in Brief Rather it seemed that whoever played Russia, for example, or Britain, would always end up playing that country in the same way.

Slovakia must create secure environment for journalists What used to strike me as significant, however, was the characteristics of the nation being played did not reflect, as they would in any other game, the characteristics of the player.


This does not mean abandoning the Caucasus, still less backing down from fierce criticism 26689 Russia’s record on 266889 rights and democracy. The players each represented one of the major European nations as they existed about one hundred years ago: Student, retired or simply can’t afford full price? Letter Malta responds to Venice Commission criticism We accepted that international law should be broken when first we bombed Kosovo and Serbia and then again when a majority of member states recognised Kosovo’s illegal independence.

They include trade, security, energy, democracy all the way from the Arctic to the Black Sea. When I was at university, there lye to be a game, still popular around the world today, called Diplomacy.

We both need a rules-based world. A number of European states also joined the equally illegal and ill-fated crusade into Iraq.

The game was known as Diplomacy because, as it is difficult to attack and to defend oneself at the same time and as a single country did not necessarily have the force by itself to overcome an opponent, the object was to arrange strategic alliances and non-aggression pacts with other players while bluffing about your true intentions.

It was, however, a time consuming game. Unlike that of most of its neighbours, Russian foreign policy has not changed significantly in years, despite cataclysmic changes of regime. Opinion Better Russia as an ally than a foe Russia has not been the only power to have flouted international law. Heaven knows we need a stable and effective partnership with Russia – and not just to run our own inter-bloc relations – but for the wider world as well.

If agreement can be reached on Georgia on the basis of some mutual understanding how much easier will be be to extend the same understanding to other issues? But whatever the length, it is surely important that we on the European side understand Russia’s legitimate fears and aspirations which, of course, extend far beyond the Caucasus. Besides, the game could only really be played effectively if discussions could be clandestine. For, in a sense, Europe has been caught facing two ways.

But by understanding the Russian position – including why so many actions taken, semi-innocently, by the West are seen as provocative and threatening by Moscow – we shall be better able to reach a positive conclusion rather than a conversation that remains a dialogue of the deaf, which is what occurs when politicians posture and issue empty threats. One does wonder, however, how much is likely to be achieved in a single short day. Diplomacy by megaphone, though fashionable, is counterproductive What used to strike me as significant, however, was the characteristics of the nation being played did not reflect, as they would in any other game, the characteristics of the player.


There is room for cautious optimism in Slovakia, but the chilling effects of Jan Kuciak’s murder may be felt for some time and continued international scrutiny is important. That the United States has an even stronger stake in this hypocritical position should not cloud our judgement.

Watch our founder Lisbeth Kirk explain the reasons in this 30 seconds video. Diplomacy by megaphone, though fashionable, is counterproductive. Accepting its fading away will be extremely damaging. They will take time to resolve. It’s success – or failure – will largely depend on the EPP. But it does mean ceasing to treat Russia as though she were simply a blank space on the map. Europe needs Russian help in the Security Council on issues such as Iran, militant Islam, the Middle East, climate change, nuclear proliferation and so forth.

I am sure that President Sarkozy of France, as president of the European Council, will bear this in mind as he steps on to the Moscow tarmac on Monday accompanied by Mr Barroso and Mr Solana, to discuss with Mr Putin and President Medvedev how best we move on from the Georgian imbroglio.

Better Russia as an ally than a foe

Don’t miss out on EUobserver’s coverage of the European election. It is no use saying, as French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner does, that Kosovo is ‘unique.

As a reason for transgressing international law, uniqueness is worthless.