Friday, December 27, 2013

Russia: Skeptical. Germany: Pragmatic




For historical reasons, Germany and Russia are destined to have a special relationship. The success of the policy of reconciliation between former enemies of World War II in the last 15 years has helped, in turn, to reconcile the Europe post-cold war. During the crucial years of German reunification, German policymakers enthusiastically praised the constructive role played by the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, and the first Russian president, Boris Yeltsin.

The good relations still continues until today. Polls show that the Russian elite considers Germany as a true friend and a prominent defender in the West. Moscow does not consider Germany -- a non-nuclear state -- becoming a geopolitical rival in the post-Soviet space as well as, for example, against the United States. Germany is the most important partner in Russia's foreign trade relations. German business lobbies enthusiastically praise the new opportunities in the Russian market. German industrialists want to be the Russia's main modernization partner.

After doing business with the Kremlin and through the political elite since the 1970s, Germany welcomed the strengthening of the state's role in Russian domestic politics, which could better ensure law and order and reduce crime and corruption. Correspondingly, the German elite enjoying their country's role as a liaison between the interests of Europe with Russia, especially in economics and often as a mediator between Russia and the United States.

But German intellectuals regard recent developments in Russia with the presence of the skepticism. Though the  political and economic relations between Russia and Germany seems is as usual,  but Russia's image in the German media may not be as bad as ever since the fall of Soviet Union.

Similar to the countries of North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean, the countries in the former Soviet Union region, particularly around the Black Sea and the Caspian region have increased significantly and be the EU's new strategic environment. Countries in this region is undergoing a complex process of political and economic transformation. If the process of economic reform and liberal democratic failed in these countries, then the instability could hit the EU itself.

EU- Russia relations have to enter a number of specific issues, including energy interdependence, different values and the future of the countries of the former Soviet region. German policy makers are seeking policies that can promote business success by engaging Russia on liberal reforms, and encourage the growth in the countries of former Soviet region.

Berlin was frustrated when the EU failed to address the developments in the eastern part of the continent of Europe in an appropriate manner. France, Spain, and Italy have traditionally emphasized the pro- Mediterranean approach within the European Union. The European Union has failed to include Russia and the former Soviet republics in a wider European context. The EU decision to avoid the term "to expand Europe" and put countries like Ukraine, Georgia, Kazakhstan as "strategic environment " as well as Egypt, Morocco, and Libya has led to frustration and a feeling of neglect among pro - Western elites in the post-Soviet space. It seems Germany should take on the role of mediator for eastern European neighbors .

After Chancellor Willy Brandt did rapprochement to improve relations with East Germany, Poland, and the Soviet Union during the 1970s, Chancellor Helmut Kohl in the 1990s took the lead in designing Russia's role in Europe in the future. German policy regarding Russia in 1991-2005 designed to incorporate Russia into the larger European architecture. Kohl's always friendly to the desire of the former Soviet countries wishing to join NATO because he was afraid of provoking a negative reaction in Russia. German leadership has been the strongest advocates for the acceptability of Moscow in the debt negotiations in Paris and London Clubs as well as in formal arenas such as the G-7 and the World Trade Organization (WTO). When the post-Soviet Russia began to experience severe economic problems in the 1990s, Germany appeared as a financial lender.

Together with France, its main ally in Europe, Germany has begun a summit between French-German-Russian on a regular basis since 1997. Troika meeting is intended to allow a strategic partnership with Russia on European economic and security issues when other European countries are still not ready. The partnership is designed to make Moscow feel that although it's not a member of the European Union or NATO, but it's not excluded from decision-making in Europe.

In this regard, Russia has made several attempts to integrate itself into the new European order. In October 1999 the EU summit held in Helsinki, Finland and at the time of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin proposed to enhance the strategic cooperation between the EU and Russia. Putin then began his presidency with a concrete proposal to incorporate Russia in European security and economic architecture of the 20th century. When Gerhard Schroeder became Chancellor of Germany, he started a broad energy dialogue which almost developed into a strategic energy alliance between the EU and Russia in 2005. In his speech to the Reichstag in September 2001, Putin proposed the merger of major energy resources of Siberia with technology over the European Union. In 2002 he proposed the abolition of the visa regime between Russia and the European Union.

The European Union responded to Putin's offer carefully and formulates a step by step approach through cooperation in four areas, namely foreign, economic, domestic security, and cultural issues, but only a little real progress has been achieved.

During the Cold War, the European Union's ambition to conduct an economic union consisting of countries which share their goals above the interests of the same community. After the Cold War, the EU has developed into a community of values ​​and laws, and Russia does not understand this change immediately. Russia may have been able to align itself more closely with Europe within the framework of mutual strategic interest. Given the difficult transition to democracy and a market economy with the rule of law, however, Russia has not been able to incorporate itself against the civilization based on EU's liberal values​​. As a result of this discrepancy, Russia became increasingly frustrated with the EU.

Progress has been made in the field of economic cooperation. Shortly before the Chancellor's final term in 2005, Schroeder made ​​a deal in construction of Russia-Germany gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea. When it is finished, the track will make Germany into a major distributor of Russian gas in Europe. Pipeline project -- which is then criticized by Poland and the Baltic states -- will reduce the existing gas transportation monopoly of the transit countries, such as Poland, the Baltic states, Ukraine, and Belarus. Overall relationship between the EU and Russia soured in 2006. Russia started using gas exports as a political tool, raised the prices and cut off the supplies to its nearest neighbor. Russia refused to ratify the Energy Charter, which would put the Russian pipeline system under the international supervision.

Fearing that they could be the target of geopolitical extortion, Europeans have decided to diversify their reliance on energy exports from Russia. In its turn, the Russian authorities have threatened to divert their energy cooperation in Asia if the EU rejects the Russia's deal.

In 2006, the European Union summit in November in Finland, Germany, under Schroeder enthusiastically supported the idea of energy alliance with Russia, saying such cooperation would create the preconditions for a free trade zone in the future between the EU and Russia. Given Russia's aggressive actions against energy depends on the state of Europe, Germany and other EU countries began to fear the Cold War would happen again.

Indeed, this tough stance shows Moscow desire to challenge the status quo of the European energy policy. Russia wants to see its strength as a supplier of energy rises in the face of consumer countries. The Russian authorities also want to rewrite the conditions for the involvement of foreign companies in the Russia energy sector. Existing mechanisms provide -- in view of Moscow -- too many privileges to foreign companies and discriminate the domestic companies.

Foreign Minister Frank - Walter Steinmeier, who previously served as head of the Schroeder administration, had suggested that Europe involving Russia and former Soviet countries. Steinmeier version foresaw the continuation and deepening energy ties with Russia and Central Asia. He had criticized the idea of ​​Poland to establish a Western energy alliance. The minister, though critical of the review shortcomings of Russian democracy, understood the importance of cooperation with Russia over the issue of international terrorism, nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and security issues such as illegal migration and drug trafficking. As the former of Schroeder 's right hand, Steinmeier was responsible in designing cooperation with Russia along the four general areas above. He shared sympathy with Schroeder for the EU - Russia's strategic alliances and understood that the Kremlin had to do a recentralization of decision-making in the energy sector to dismantle the systematic robbery over Russian resources. Steinmeier thought that the failure to involve Russia could lead to Russia united with China facing the West.

Steinmeier's ministry has developed an approach to Central Asia and the Caucasus : the energy cooperation , transfer of democracy , and possible solutions to resolving the conflict in Transdnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno - Karabakh. In the energy sector, Germany attempts to diversify its imports from Russia by supporting the incorporation of the producing countries and the Caspian / Black Sea with transit countries, a common European energy alliance in which the exporting countries, transit countries and consumer countries to act according to the established agreements. Steinmeier main focus is directed to open new doors for economic cooperation as a step towards the creation of a free trade zone between the EU and the countries of the post - Soviet space. Germany wants to deepen economic cooperation with EU countries along the ancient Silk Road and encourage the countries to regional cooperation, thus making in the countries of the former Soviet region in the southern region as a bridge between the EU and ASEAN.

In the subsequent period, German Chancellor Angela Merkel (since 2005) to fully appreciate the business opportunities the German and European in Russia's market economy which is growing rapidly in Russia. She remains committed to a strategic partnership between Germany and Russia, particularly on energy issues. Having grown up in East Germany during the Soviet occupation, Merkel is skeptical about the prospects for Russia  democracy as well as their human rights record and she seems to share a lot of anti-Russia sentiment in countries of the former Soviet region. As a result, Merkel takes a cautious approach and pragmatic cooperation with Russia and countries of the former Soviet region.

Russia and Central Asia are posed as Merkel's agenda in EU's internal or G-8. Merkel needs the support from all European Union member states and she worries that Russian policy is too tight will raise tensions with the United States and Poland and as well as other European countries. Merkel worries if the ambitious agenda to include the countries of former Soviet Union will provoke the unnecessary tensions, when the West need Russia as a strategic partner in Iran, North Korea, and the Middle East. Merkel has ambitious targets to fight the international terrorism, maintaining the peace in Afghanistan, in the Middle East, and Africa, to prevent the Iran's nuclear bomb, and addressed the problem of Kosovo's independence. Merkel wants to tackle this issue and demonstrates her leadership in Europe when French and English facing leadership changes.

Although she will not actively to engage Russia, Merkel can not completely ignore Russia, given the EU 's dependence on Russian energy supplies. Merkel uses a pan-European consensus in order to convince Russia to ratify the Energy Charter that will control the energy transport network with the European Union, and gives equal rights to the EU energy companies in Russia market, in front of the domestic firm.

Considering the interests of the countries in the former Soviet region, then the  EU enlargement may be discontinued for many years after the entry of Romania and Bulgaria in 2007. Ukraine has high hopes for Merkel, and Georgia is expected to receive more support from Berlin in support the EU peacekeeping mission to Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The countries of post-Soviet require more Western support actively in building a social system of the market economy. With the uncertainty about the political future of EU, Merkel can not make a lot of promises to the neighboring countries in eastern German. There is a concrete gesture that Russia will block any proposal of Germany to unite the countries of former Soviet region. Russia will not agree to build a new gas pipeline in the Caspian region that will interfere with the territory of Russia, and Russia is reluctant to share the responsibility for the peace maintenance in the countries of former Soviet Union.

Merkel will concentrate on building a general consensus outside the European Union and security policies in the EU member states and carefully to avoid indication of the existence of a special relationship between Germany and Russia. Merkel does not want to be accused to approve Russia policy over the countries of central and eastern Europe. Meanwhile, Steinmeier will probably make his several trips to countries in the former Soviet territory during the German leads the EU to initiate a broad dialogue with Russia, Ukraine, and other countries related to the foreign policy and security.
***
(CZ-lacalifusa122813)

So, in the case of Khodorkovsky, Merkel is just like an aunt who happily welcomes the arrival of his nephew by saying, "Oh, dear, you come at the invitation of me!" whereas, she knows for sure, his nephew is in trouble with his ​​mother. (So, "Dear Aunt" Merkel, please do not be flirtatious. Russia is anti flirty, you know? ehhehhe... )

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CZ

"Thank you for your perception! I like your romantic side, even if I do not always comment and I'm glad that you're in my circle of friends."
(Courtesies by: Wolfgang A. Gerhardt)

Wolfgang A.Gerhardt : May be you like this Sunday collage

Cisca Zarmansyah : Before today, there never was a person doing this to me. You create a simple matter to look special. This is a special thing for me.

Cisca Zarmansyah : Thank you. I love it. I love you, my friend.

CieL- FreYa Ceastle : Hmm, he's so nice...















"I am me.
In all the world,
there is no one else exactly like me.
Everything that comes out of me
is authentically mine,
because I alone chose it --
I own everything about me:
my body,
my feelings,
my mouth,
my voice,
all my actions,
whether they be to others or myself.
I own my fantasies,
my dreams,
my hopes,
my fears.
I own my triumphs and successes,
all my failures and mistakes.
Because I own all of me,
I can become intimately acquainted with me.
By so doing,
I can love me
and be friendly with all my parts.
I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me,
and other aspects that I do not know
-- but as long as I am friendly
and loving to myself,
I can courageously and hopefully
look for solutions
to the puzzles and ways
to find out more about me.
However I look and sound,
whatever I say and do,
and whatever I think and feel at a given moment in time
is authentically me.
If later some parts of how I looked,
sounded,
thought,
and felt
turn out to be unfitting,
I can discard that which is unfitting,
keep the rest,
and invent something new
for that which I discarded.
I can see,
hear,
feel,
think,
say, and do.
I have the tools to survive,
to be close to others,
to be productive,
and to make sense
and order out of the world of people
and things outside of me.
I own me,
and therefore,
I can engineer me.
I am me,
and I am okay."

VIRGINIA SATIR
(American Phychologist and Educator, 1916-1988)