|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Medvedev Sees Systemic Crisis; Offers 'Rotten' Proposals
June 7 (EIRNS)Russian President Dmitri Medvedev keynoted the XII St. Petersburg Economic Forum today, with a speech that took note of the utter failure of the existing "global financial architecture," which he said had not only failed to prevent the worst world economic crisis since the Great Depression, but had produced the world food crisis, and the further impoverishment of most of the world's population. While welcoming Medvedev's recognition that the current crisis is "systemic"the Russian leader used this term with regard to the role of derivatives contracts in driving food and raw materials pricesEIR founder Lyndon LaRouche characterized his proposals as "rotten," because they would attempt merely to reform current, disastrous trends.
Saying that Russia wants to "take part in formulating new rules of the game," Medvedev offered Russia as a venue for a discussion of specific solutions for "reforming the global financial architecture." An international conference could be held on the topic this year, he said, but he suggested that it be attended only by "leaders of major financial companies, leading financial analysts, and scholars," who would then submit proposals to politicians for action.
Medvedev Calls for Non-Bloc Euro-Atlantic Security Plan
June 6 (EIRNS)In Germany, on his first diplomatic trip to a Western country since taking office, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev unveiled an initiative for a European security conference and treaty, in which each country would take part as an individual nation, not a bloc member. Medvedev said he wanted to "break the vicious circle of unilateral action and reaction," typified by the current issues of Kosovo independence, NATO expansion, and missile defense. The United States and Canada would be included.
The proposal came in a June 5 speech to German political, parliamentary, and civic leaders, and industrialists and bankers. The Kremlin released a separate, short statement highlighting the European security initiative. "The President of Russian suggested developing a legally binding treaty on European security," it said, "[He] proposed organizing a pan-European summit, which could start the process.... The President stressed that it is important that all states would participate in this work directly on the basis of their national interests, foregoing 'bloc' approaches and ideological considerations."
Russian media played up positive remarks by German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger, who said Berlin would study the proposal closely.
Medvedev said that Russian-German relations, based on "historic reconciliation, despite the tragedy of two world wars, ... represent, to a large extent, the relations between Russia and Europe as a whole." That reconciliation, he added, is as important historically as Franco-German reconciliation was, even if people don't recognize the fact. Medvedev's security concept would be based on principles set forward by "the founders of the United Nations," concerning cooperation among nations on an equal basis. With the end of the Cold War, NATO is obsolete, Medvedev said: "It is my conviction that Atlanticism as a sole historical principle has already had its day. We need to talk today about unity between the whole Euro-Atlantic area from Vancouver to Vladivostok."
The Russian President charged that NATO "has also failed to give new purpose to its existence," after the end of the Cold War, while "trying to find this purpose by globalizing its mission, including to the detriment of the UN's prerogatives." If NATO expands further to the East, he warned, its cooperation with Russia, including on anti-drug and other operations in Afghanistan, "would be completely undermined, ruined for a long time to come."
Medvedev noted the failed League of Nations and anti-war Kellogg-Briand Pact in the 1920s, but also the partial success of the Soviet-initiated Helsinki accords of the 1975 Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Today, Medvedev proposed that the nations cooperating "as individual countries" in his Euro-Atlantic initiative would be able to address problems such as the global food crisis and energy security.
London Mouthpiece Campaigns for EU Offensive vs. Russia
June 6 (EIRNS)On May 21, the European Union agreed to resume negotiations with Russia over a new umbrella cooperation agreement. These talks will proceed at the June 26-27 EU-Russia summit in Khanty-Mansiysk, western Siberia. The current issue of the London Economist, the City of London mouthpiece that has vigorously campaigned for using the EU to cut Russia down to size, carries an exultant commentary, congratulating Lithuania for having held off this decision for months, until the EU formalized a pledge to monitor Russian behavior in Georgia and elsewhere.
The Economist attacked Germany for wanting the cooperation talks to move ahead quickly. To be welcomed, on the other hand: "Other countries are moving to counter what they see as Germany's overly Russia-friendly policies." Carl Bildt and Radek Sikorski, the foreign ministers of Sweden and Poland, respectively, have launched a plan they call "Eastern partnership," which will offer preferential trade terms and other EU-membership-preparation enticements to Georgia, Ukraine, and even Belarus and "Russian regions such as Kaliningrad" (which, as the formerly German city of Koenigsberg, is located between Lithuania and Poland).
In an editorial, the Economist claimed that the consolidated pool of cheap labor, created through the EU's enlargement into Eastern Europe, has helped all the member countries! "Teething troubles with a few new members," the Economist said, "should not become an excuse for slamming the door on others." Of greatest interest, the commentary insisted, is eventual EU membership for Ukraine, which is currently involved in quarrels with Russia, as well as within its own leadership.
Sergey Yastrzhembsky, the former Kremlin special representative to the EU, said on May 29, that the new EU-Russia talks will be "long and difficult." Novosti information agency cited an unnamed Russian government source who expressed doubt that a new umbrella agreement could be reached this year.
(For background, see "British Imperial Strategists Push EU To Confront Russia," EIR, March 7, 2008.)
EU Meddles in Transcaucasus; Attempts To Replace UN Mediation
June 6 (EIRNS)On May 30, fifteen emissaries from European Union countries arrived in Sukhumi, capital of the autonomous region of Abkhazia in Georgia, to prepare the way for mediation efforts by EU leaders to follow. The mission was part of a campaign, endorsed by Georgian President Michael Saakashvili, to end the United Nations mandate, under which Russian peacekeepers have policed Abkhazia since the end of its civil war with the central Georgian goverment in the early 1990s.
As EIR has reported, ideologues of an "imperial European Union" under the Lisbon Treaty, such as the London-connected analyst Ivan Krastev of the Centre for Liberal Strategies (Bulgaria), saw the EU's role in Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia as a foot-in-the-door for meddling throughout western Eurasia. A series of articles in the Russian daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta has now documented EU moves into the so-called "frozen conflicts" in Moldova and Georgia. In "steps that Europeans are taking quietly and without pomp in the field of mediation which quite recently was Russia's priority," the staff of EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has arranged "dialogue" visits to Brussels by leaders of the breakaway autonomous regions of Transdniestria (Moldova) and South Ossetia (Georgia), Nezavisimaya reported May 16. "Tbilisi is trying to squeeze the UN (where Russia has the right of veto) out" of the Abkhazia negotiations, the paper wrote on May 19, quoting Georgia's State Reintegration Minister Temur Iakobashvili on how he wants the EU to step in as mediator.
Today, Javier Solana staged a visit to Abkhazia. And in St. Petersburg, on the sidelines of an informal Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summit, Saakashvili met with Russian President Medvedev, who rejected a shift to outside mediation of conflicts within the formerly Soviet CIS region. Medvedev told the CIS meeting, "I think we can sort out our relations by ourselves." Within the past month, a deputy foreign minister of Georgia has described Russia and Georgia as being "on the brink of war" over Abkhazia, while Saakashvili himself proclaimed in May, "We are the fighting ground for a new world war."
Saakashvili claimed an overwhelming parliamentary victory for his party last month, but over 100,000 people have turned out in several rallies to protest vote fraud. Shalva Natelashvili's Georgian Labor Party, which did cross the vote threshold to enter Parliament, has refused to take its seats because of the fraud.
Russia and Kazakstan Continue Eurasian Rail Talks
June 3 (EIRNS)In the second major Russia-Kazakstan meeting on joint railways projects in the past two weeks, Kazakstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev yesterday met with Vladimir Yakunin, head of the state-owned Russian Railways, according to the President's press service. "Issues of Kazak-Russian cooperation in international railway transit and creating new transportation corridors were discussed during the meeting," the press service said. One project under discussion was transit from China to Europe via Kazakstan and Russia. On May 29-30, the CIS Railway Transportation Council met in Kyrgyzstan to discuss Eurasian rail projects. Yakunin attended that meeting, while also grabbing headlines about his negotiating a training camp for the Russian Railways champion soccer team, Lokomotiv, on a lake in Kyrgyzstan.
Kazakstan has also ratified the agreement to set up a customs union in the framework of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEc). An agreement was signed by the Presidents of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakstan in Dushanbe, Tajikistan in October 2007, and has now been ratified by Kazakstan's parliament. Three other members of EurAsECTajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstanwill also be able to join the customs union.