Monday, June 09, 2008

Medvedev to Europe: Kick the US to the Curb

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev used his visit to Berlin on June 5 for proposing an all-European security pact with Russia’s participation, inherently in opposition to NATO (Interfax, Itar-Tass, June 5, 6). The Kremlin apparently hopes that the evolving Russo-German “special relationship” could turn Germany into a sound chamber for Russian proposals of this sort.

The proposal itself looks like an updated variation on Soviet-era initiatives on the same theme. The primary targets of such overtures in Europe today, however, are no longer left-leaning opposition groups, but rather business interests and establishment political figures.

Addressing his audience of nearly 1,000 German businessmen and politicians, Medvedev called on European countries to start working out an all-European security pact. An all-European summit should be called to kick-start the process. All of Europe’s states would be called upon to participate, “each acting in its own national capacity. Any ideas about alliances and groups of states would be left outside the door.” The implication is that NATO and European Union member countries must not, at least not officially, coordinate their positions in the negotiations, if the process goes ahead.

Once approved, the pact would be legally binding, in the form of a second edition of the OSCE’s 1976 Helsinki Final Act. The Kremlin wants a new pact to be approved at an all-European summit. The participant states would form an all-European organization, resembling the OSCE in some ways. Medvedev labeled the would-be pact as a “regional pact,” a hint that Russia would attempt to exclude the United States. The resulting pact and organization should, in the sense of the UN Charter, “conclusively clarify the role of the use of force in the Euro-Atlantic community.” This obscure language implies that NATO decisions would require approval from outside the alliance.

Medvedev hinted at a grandiose make-work project for the moribund OSCE as a basis for the proposed pan-European security system. He suggested that “the OSCE should turn into a fully-fledged regional structure” and criticized “those who are preventing it from doing so.” He stopped short of naming the United States but did blame NATO by name for blocking the OSCE’s development along those lines.

Furthermore, “existing organizations in the Euro-Atlantic space could also become signatory parties to the pact,” though not to the would-be pan-European organization. The reference to existing organizations almost certainly means NATO and the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). According to Medvedev’s proposal, the two alliances would not participate in the negotiations to work out a pact and a new European organization. These would be reserved for states acting strictly in their national capacities; but once the process is concluded, the “existing” alliances would be invited to sign the pact.

I don't see the Europeans endorsing this unless we were to reelect Bush in perpetuity. However, since the electoralate is definitely not so inclined, I think we're safe from this one. I am surprised that Medvedev even brought this up other than, perhaps, to annoy the US. The fact that this is the exact sort of proposal that the Soviet Union used to bandy about is a little...disturbing.

Perhaps this post could do with a little music:

Beautiful anthem, even if it comes from where it does. There are English versions, but that's just wrong. Maybe like the Star Spangled Banner by Roseanne or something. Actually, don't click that. You don't want to listen...or remember if you've blotted that memory (and are old enough to remember...sheesh).

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