Tag Archives: Russia

Negotiations with Iran – E3+3 or P5+1 or?

Joshua Keating talks about the name of the negotiations format that includes the United States, France, Britain, China, Russia, and Germany. One way to call it has been P5+1 (permanent members of the UN Security Council + Germany). Another way is to count E3+3 (three European countries plus the others).

Keating doesn’t like the new acronym, but he apparently misses a point here. The thing is, Mr. Javier Solana (High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union) will also attend. And, oh, he did arrange the meeting itself.

So it might not be that bad to put an emphasis on Europe, this time.

New Open Letter on Russia

There is a new open letter by Eastern European and Western politicians, intellectuals and activists. The list is long: Vaclav Havel, Valdas Adamkus, Mart Laar, Vytautas Landsbergis, Otto de Habsbourg, Daniel Cohn Bendit, Timothy Garton Ash, André Glucksmann, Mark Leonard, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Adam Michnik, Josep Ramoneda.

The letter addresses the Russian occupation of parts of the territory of Georgia. It focuses on the EU policies towards Russia and contains strong reminiscences to WWII. The authors say:

“It would be utterly disastrous if we were to appear in any way to condone the kind of practices that plunged our continent into war and division for most of the last century.”

This letter comes after a previous one in July 2009 that addressed the United states policies towards Central and Eastern Europe, and after the decision of the US to withdraw plans for a missile shield in the region.

The US Will Not Build Missile Shield in Europe

The United States have decided not to build a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says a U.S. decision to shelve plans for a missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland “is a positive step.”

This may well be true. Experts have long ago warned that missile defense is a highly political exercise with many technical challenges.

This leaves, however, the question about the US involvement in Eastern Europe open. Not long ago a group of intellectuals and former political leaders from Eastern Europe warned that Russia’s creeping intimidation and influence-peddling could over time lead to a de facto neutralization of the region.

We know that the US currently considers Russia an important partner, but also serious threat for US interests. We also know that there are expert calls for intensified US consultations with Russia as yet another European state.

This leaves the European Union in a precarious position of diverging interests and bilateral agreements. Yet some experts say that a focused and engaged neighbourhood policy is the most important tool for protecting EU interests. This resonates with the claim that the US will confront Moscow over its attempts to create a ‘sphere of influence’ in Eastern Europe.

The European Court of Human Rights is in Crisis?

A new report by Chatham House claims that the European Court of Human Rights is in real crisis, with over 50000 cases filed in 2008, as compared to 43000 cases for the first 43 years of existence of the Court.

The report says that four states (Russia, Turkey, Romania and Ukraine) account for about 57% of the Court’s workload. It also notes that Protocol 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms has not yet entered into force due to Russia’s failure to ratify it.

Bulgaria May Fall under Russian Influence

A report obtained by the Financial Times says that Bulgaria is at risk of falling under Russian political and economic influence unless Brussels works more effectively with Sofia. The report was written by the six-member advisory board of the Stanishev government, chaired by Dominique de Villepin, a former French prime minister.

The report is quite blatant:

“If Bulgaria fails in the fulfillment of this objective, different consequences could arise. First, the Bulgarian state could become more vulnerable, encouraging populist movements and planting the seeds of discouragement among Bulgarian civil society.

“Second, the efforts undertaken to build up a stronger, more modern and efficient state apparatus could weaken, and so would the trust of the people in the state. Finally, it could undo the ties between the EU and Bulgaria, prompting a shift of Bulgaria towards Russian political and economic interests.”

Eastern European Intellectuals’ Open Letter to Obama

A group of Eastern European intellectuals, including Vaclav Havel, Lech Walesa and Bulgarian political scientist Ivan Krastev, have signed an open letter to the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama.

The letter says that Central and Eastern European countries are no longer at the heart of American foreign policy. The authors believe that Central and Eastern Europe is at a political crossroads and today there is a growing sense of nervousness in the region. They say that the United States is likely to lose many of its traditional interlocutors in the region. The most important message in the letter is that the danger is that Russia’s creeping intimidation and influence-peddling in the region could over time lead to a de facto neutralization of the region.

The letter calls for a renaissance of NATO as the most important security link between the United States and Europe.

Bulgaria May Freeze South Stream Project

Euractiv reports, that some Russian experts expect the new Bulgarian government lead by Boyko Borissov to freeze work on the South Stream gas pipeline project sponsored by Russia. This comes after the signing of the rival Nabucco project, backed by the European Union.

In the article Vladimir Bruter from the International Institute for Humanitarian and Political Sciences says that Moscow should better get used to the idea that the new Bulgarian leader will keep his distance from Russia. A similar analysis is provided by Vasily Kashirin.