by Professor Anton Caragea PhD, MA, FINS
The conflict in Caucasus has proven that the European Union is unfortunately still in need of a coherent foreign policy. In March 2003, after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, EU member states decided in Brussels that never again would they be caught wrong-footed by international events. The result of this decision was the creation of the post of EU High Representative on Foreign Policy and the naming of Javier Solana as the czar of EU foreign affairs. But the Caucasus conflict proves that EU is still uncertain about its role in European affairs.
To craft a new status for the EU in the aftermath of this crisis, French President Nicolas Sarkozy requested an emergency meeting of EU leaders for September 1. It is time for Europe to keep its word and develop a coherent foreign policy. Such a bold initiative, however, requires a new agreement to replace the 1975 Helsinki Accords and address the new challenges to borders and sovereignty.
For its September 1 meeting and after, the EU must prove that it is capable of tackling sensitive problems in its own backyard without outside intervention. The most important item on the agenda will be countries like Kosovo, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia, which appeared on the world map only in the last six months. A second objective for European leaders is to strengthen the EU-Russia relationship.
The Caucasus crisis proves that the EU must be more engaged in international security issues and willing to assume peacekeeping missions not only in places like Lebanon but even in lands closer to home. In this process, the EU must find its own voice. Condemning Russia for its intervention turns the EU into a mere spokesperson for U.S. foreign policy rather than an independent entity. Moreover, if it doesn't speak up in favor of the principle of territorial integrity, the EU itself will become vulnerable in the future.
No-Man's Land Syndrome
Kosovo's February 17 declaration of independence marked the birth of a new category for Europe after World War II: countries that have de facto sovereignty but not de jure status. These are virtual no-man's lands. Kosovo's independence was proclaimed in breach of both UN Resolution 1244 and the 1999 Rambouillet Accord that guaranteed Serbia's territorial integrity. Also, Kosovo independence was against the UN Charter and the 1975 Final Agreement of Helsinki Conference that underlined the territorial integrity and security of European borders. Similarly, Abkhazian and South Ossetian independence are in breach of the UN Charter, the 1975 Helsinki Agreement, and UN Resolution 1808 that established the UNOMIG peacekeeping forces in Georgia in 2008.
All three countries establish a precedent that minority collective rights can prevail over national borders, territorial integrity, and the UN Charter. To accept this point of view is to open a Pandora's box that will only unleash conflict and territorial claims all around the world. Minority collective rights will be a powerful rationale for large powers to intervene in what they perceive as their area of influence. Russia's actions in Georgia are just such an assertion of regional power status.
Countries such as Kosovo, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia all contribute to the erosion of countries whose borders were internationally recognized and inscribed in the final act of the Helsinki Conference in 1975. If Europe doesn't stop this proliferation of new countries, the epidemic will spread around the world. In Europe alone, the pursuit by minorities for sovereignty, as applied in Kosovo and Abkhazia, can be seen as well in Macedonia (with a large and concentrated Albanian minority), Spain (with the Basque and Catalan regions), and Belgium (with conflict between the Walloon and Flemish communities).
Europe is not the only continent with such ruptures. In South America, Venezuela is pressing for the creation of the so-called Rupununi state in Guyana; in Mexico the Chiapas Indians have been pushing for an autonomous state for more than 60 years; in North America, Québécois independence is a dream never forgotten. In Africa, too, civil wars have broken out as a result of separatist struggles, within Sudan (Darfur), Somalia (Somaliland), Congo (Katanga), and Nigeria (Biafra). Kurds push for independence in Turkey, and in South Asia the Kashmir cry for independence grows stronger every day.
A New Helsinki Agreement
In 1975, when the Cold War was far from over, the Helsinki Accords offered Europe a guarantee of peace and stability by confirming the borders of the old continent and establishing the way that new countries could be born. It was flexible enough to accommodate the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Czechoslovakia partition of 1991, and the reunification of Germany. But the cases of Kosovo, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia have called into question the mechanisms of the Helsinki Accords.
The EU Summit on September 1 can not provide any long-term solution to this problem because almost half of Europe (in surface and population) are not members. These non-member countries are equally interested in resolving the crises of the no man's lands.
Only a new international conference uniting all European countries together with Russia and the United States can reaffirm the Helsinki Accords and offer a solution to the present crises. Such an international conference is necessary to reconfirm borders and establish the principles by which further changes in Europe can take place. To continue on the present path, in which the United States supports Kosovo independence and Russia backs Abkhazia and South Ossetia, is to invite a large-scale, worldwide reinvention of borders.
Of course, a new Helsinki Accord could not be reached in a month. The initial conference required more then three years of preparation. But in the meantime we should establish a freeze on the recognition of new states and a general reinforcement of the principle of territorial integrity. In his August 26 speech, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev agreed to an international solution on border issues. The EU must follow suit and begin to draft a new Helsinki Accords on post-Cold War borders. On September 1, Europe must establish a new voice on international issues or it will no longer matter on the international stage.
Anton Caragea is professor of international relations and political science and director of the Institute for Research on International Relations and Political Science in Romania. A contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus (www.fpif.org), he is the author of 15 books on European and Asian history
Open Letter to the Obama Administration from Central and Eastern Europe
by Emil Constantinescu , Valdas Adamkus, Martin Butora, Pavol Demes, Lubos Dobrovsky, Matyas Eorsi, Istvan Gyarmati, Vaclav Havel, Rastislav Kacer, Sandra Kalniete, Karel Schwarzenberg, Michal Kovac, Ivan Krastev, Alexander Kwasniewski, Mart Laar, Kadri Liik, Janos Martonyi. Janusz Onyszkiewicz, Adam Rotfeld, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Alexandr Vondra, Lech Walesa.
We have written this letter because, as Central and Eastern European (CEE) intellectuals and former policymakers, we care deeply about the future of the transatlantic relationship as well as the future quality of relations between the United States and the countries of our region. We write in our personal capacity as individuals who are friends and allies of the United States as well as committed Europeans.
Our nations are deeply indebted to the United States. Many of us know firsthand how important your support for our freedom and independence was during the dark Cold War years. U.S. engagement and support was essential for the success of our democratic transitions after the Iron Curtain fell twenty years ago. Without Washington’s vision and leadership, it is doubtful that we would be in NATO and even the EU today.
We have worked to reciprocate and make this relationship a two-way street. We are Atlantic voices within NATO and the EU. Our nations have been engaged alongside the United States in the Balkans, Iraq, and today in Afghanistan. While our contribution may at times seem modest compared to your own, it is significant when measured as a percentage of our population and GDP. Having benefited from your support for liberal democracy and liberal values in the past, we have been among your strongest supporters when it comes to promoting democracy and human rights around the world.
Twenty years after the end of the Cold War, however, we see that Central and Eastern European countries are no longer at the heart of American foreign policy. As the new Obama Administration sets its foreign-policy priorities, our region is one part of the world that Americans have largely stopped worrying about. Indeed, at times we have the impression that U.S. policy was so successful that many American officials have now concluded that our region is fixed once and for all and that they could “check the box” and move on to other more pressing strategic issues. Relations have been so close that many on both sides assume that the region’s transatlantic orientation, as well as its stability and prosperity, would last forever.
That view is premature. All is not well either in our region or in the transatlantic relationship. Central and Eastern Europe is at a political crossroads and today there is a growing sense of nervousness in the region. The global economic crisis is impacting on our region and, as elsewhere, runs the risk that our societies will look inward and be less engaged with the outside world. At the same time, storm clouds are starting to gather on the foreign policy horizon. Like you, we await the results of the EU Commission’s investigation on the origins of the Russo-Georgian war. But the political impact of that war on the region has already been felt. Many countries were deeply disturbed to see the Atlantic alliance stand by as Russia violated the core principles of the Helsinki Final Act, the Charter of Paris, and the territorial integrity of a country that was a member of NATO’s Partnership for Peace and the Euroatlantic Partnership Council -all in the name of defending a sphere of influence on its borders.
Despite the efforts and significant contribution of the new members, NATO today seems weaker than when we joined. In many of our countries it is perceived as less and less relevant – and we feel it. Although we are full members, people question whether NATO would be willing and able to come to our defense in some future crises. Europe’s dependence on Russian energy also creates concern about the cohesion of the Alliance. President Obama’s remark at the recent NATO summit on the need to provide credible defense plans for all Alliance members was welcome, but not sufficient to allay fears about the Alliance´s defense readiness. Our ability to continue to sustain public support at home for our contributions to Alliance missions abroad also depends on us being able to show that our own security concerns are being addressed in NATO and close cooperation with the United States
We must also recognize that America’s popularity and influence have fallen in many of our countries as well. Public opinions polls, including the German Marshall Fund’s own Transatlantic Trends survey, show that our region has not been immune to the wave of criticism and anti-Americanism that has swept Europe in recent years and which led to a collapse in sympathy and support for the United States during the Bush years. Some leaders in the region have paid a political price for their support of the unpopular war in Iraq. In the future they may be more careful in taking political risks to support the United States. We believe that the onset of a new Administration has created a new opening to reverse this trend but it will take time and work on both sides to make up for what we have lost.
In many ways the EU has become the major factor and institution in our lives. To many people it seems more relevant and important today than the link to the United States. To some degree it is a logical outcome of the integration of Central and Eastern Europe into the EU. Our leaders and officials spend much more time in EU meetings than in consultations with Washington, where they often struggle to attract attention or make our voices heard. The region’s deeper integration in the EU is of course welcome and should not necessarily lead to a weakening of the transatlantic relationship. The hope was that integration of Central and Eastern Europe into the EU would actually strengthen the strategic cooperation between Europe and America.
However, there is a danger that instead of being a pro-Atlantic voice in the EU, support for a more global partnership with Washington in the region might wane over time. The region does not have the tradition of assuming a more global role. Some items on the transatlantic agenda, such as climate change, do not resonate in the Central and Eastern European publics to the same extent as they do in Western Europe.
Leadership change is also coming in Central and Eastern Europe. Next to those, there are fewer and fewer leaders who emerged from the revolutions of 1989 who experienced Washington’s key role in securing our democratic transition and anchoring our countries in NATO and EU. A new generation of leaders is emerging who do not have these memories and follow a more “realistic” policy. At the same time, the former Communist elites, whose insistence on political and economic power significantly contributed to the crises in many CEE countries, gradually disappear from the political scene. The current political and economic turmoil and the fallout from the global economic crisis provide additional opportunities for the forces of nationalism, extremism, populism, and anti-Semitism across the continent but also in some our countries.
This means that the United States is likely to lose many of its traditional interlocutors in the region. The new elites replacing them may not share the idealism – or have the same relationship to the United States – as the generation who led the democratic transition. They may be more calculating in their support of the United States as well as more parochial in their world view. And in Washington a similar transition is taking place as many of the leaders and personalities we have worked with and relied on are also leaving politics.
And then there is the issue of how to deal with Russia. Our hopes that relations with Russia would improve and that Moscow would finally fully accept our complete sovereignty and independence after joining NATO and the EU have not been fulfilled. Instead, Russia is back as a revisionist power pursuing a 19th-century agenda with 21st-century tactics and methods. At a global level, Russia has become, on most issues, a status-quo power. But at a regional level and vis-a-vis our nations, it increasingly acts as a revisionist one. It challenges our claims to our own historical experiences. It asserts a privileged position in determining our security choices. It uses overt and covert means of economic warfare, ranging from energy blockades and politically motivated investments to bribery and media manipulation in order to advance its interests and to challenge the transatlantic orientation of Central and Eastern Europe.
We welcome the “reset” of the American-Russian relations. As the countries living closest to Russia, obviously nobody has a greater interest in the development of the democracy in Russia and better relations between Moscow and the West than we do. But there is also nervousness in our capitals. We want to ensure that too narrow an understanding of Western interests does not lead to the wrong concessions to Russia. Today the concern is, for example, that the United States and the major European powers might embrace the Medvedev plan for a “Concert of Powers” to replace the continent’s existing, value-based security structure. 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. There are differing views within the region when it comes to Moscow’s new policies. But there is a shared view that the full engagement of the United States is needed.
Many in the region are looking with hope to the Obama Administration to restore the Atlantic relationship as a moral compass for their domestic as well as foreign policies. A strong commitment to common liberal democratic values is essential to our countries. We know from our own historical experience the difference between when the United States stood up for its liberal democratic values and when it did not. Our region suffered when the United States succumbed to “realism” at Yalta. And it benefited when the United States used its power to fight for principle. That was critical during the Cold War and in opening the doors of NATO. Had a “realist” view prevailed in the early 1990s, we would not be in NATO today and the idea of a Europe whole, free, and at peace would be a distant dream.
We understand the heavy demands on your Administration and on U.S. foreign policy. It is not our intent to add to the list of problems you face. Rather, we want to help by being strong Atlanticist allies in a U.S.-European partnership that is a powerful force for good around the world. But we are not certain where our region will be in five or ten years time given the domestic and foreign policy uncertainties we face. We need to take the right steps now to ensure the strong relationship between the United States and Central and Eastern Europe over the past twenty years will endure.
We believe this is a time both the United States and Europe need to reinvest in the transatlantic relationship. We also believe this is a time when the United States and Central and Eastern Europe must reconnect around a new and forward-looking agenda. While recognizing what has been achieved in the twenty years since the fall of the Iron Curtain, it is time to set a new agenda for close cooperation for the next twenty years across the Atlantic.
Therefore, we propose the following steps:
First, we are convinced that America needs Europe and that Europe needs the United States as much today as in the past. The United States should reaffirm its vocation as a European power and make clear that it plans to stay fully engaged on the continent even while it faces the pressing challenges in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the wider Middle East, and Asia. For our part we must work at home in our own countries and in Europe more generally to convince our leaders and societies to adopt a more global perspective and be prepared to shoulder more responsibility in partnership with the United States.
Second, we need a renaissance of NATO as the most important security link between the United States and Europe. It is the only credible hard power security guarantee we have. NATO must reconfirm its core function of collective defense even while we adapt to the new threats of the 21st century. A key factor in our ability to participate in NATO’s expeditionary missions overseas is the belief that we are secure at home. We must therefore correct some self-inflicted wounds from the past. It was a mistake not to commence with proper Article 5 defense planning for new members after NATO was enlarged. NATO needs to make the Alliance’s commitments credible and provide strategic reassurance to all members. This should include contingency planning, prepositioning of forces, equipment, and supplies for reinforcement in our region in case of crisis as originally envisioned in the NATO-Russia Founding Act.
We should also re-think the working of the NATO-Russia Council and return to the practice where NATO member countries enter into dialogue with Moscow with a coordinated position. When it comes to Russia, our experience has been that a more determined and principled policy toward Moscow will not only strengthen the West’s security but will ultimately lead Moscow to follow a more cooperative policy as well. Furthermore, the more secure we feel inside NATO, the easier it will also be for our countries to reach out to engage Moscow on issues of common interest. That is the dual track approach we need and which should be reflected in the new NATO strategic concept.
Third, the thorniest issue may well be America’s planned missile-defense installations. Here too, there are different views in the region, including among our publics which are divided. Regardless of the military merits of this scheme and what Washington eventually decides to do, the issue has nevertheless also become — at least in some countries — a symbol of America’s credibility and commitment to the region. How it is handled could have a significant impact on their future transatlantic orientation. The small number of missiles involved cannot be a threat to Russia’s strategic capabilities, and the Kremlin knows this. We should decide the future of the program as allies and based on the strategic plusses and minuses of the different technical and political configurations. The Alliance should not allow the issue to be determined by unfounded Russian opposition. Abandoning the program entirely or involving Russia too deeply in it without consulting Poland or the Czech Republic can undermine the credibility of the United States across the whole region.
Fourth, we know that NATO alone is not enough. We also want and need more Europe and a better and more strategic U.S.-EU relationship as well. Increasingly our foreign policies are carried out through the European Union – and we support that. We also want a common European foreign and defense policy that is open to close cooperation with the United States. We are the advocates of such a line in the EU. But we need the United States to rethink its attitude toward the EU and engage it much more seriously as a strategic partner. We need to bring NATO and the EU closer together and make them work in tandem. We need common NATO and EU strategies not only toward Russia but on a range of other new strategic challenges.
Fifth is energy security. The threat to energy supplies can exert an immediate influence on our nations’ political sovereignty also as allies contributing to common decisions in NATO. That is why it must also become a transatlantic priority. Although most of the responsibility for energy security lies within the realm of the EU, the United States also has a role to play. Absent American support, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline would never have been built. Energy security must become an integral part of U.S.-European strategic cooperation. Central and Eastern European countries should lobby harder (and with more unity) inside Europe for diversification of the energy mix, suppliers, and transit routes, as well as for tough legal scrutiny of Russia’s abuse of its monopoly and cartel-like power inside the EU. But American political support on this will play a crucial role. Similarly, the United States can play an important role in solidifying further its support for the Nabucco pipeline, particularly in using its security relationship with the main transit country, Turkey, as well as the North-South interconnector of Central Europe and LNG terminals in our region.
Sixth, we must not neglect the human factor. Our next generations need to get to know each other, too. We have to cherish and protect the multitude of educational, professional, and other networks and friendships that underpin our friendship and alliance. The U.S. visa regime remains an obstacle in this regard. It is absurd that Poland and Romania — arguably the two biggest and most pro-American states in the CEE region, which are making substantial contributions in Iraq and Afghanistan — have not yet been brought into the visa waiver program. It is incomprehensible that a critic like the French anti-globalization activist Jose Bove does not require a visa for the United States but former Solidarity activist and Nobel Peace prizewinner Lech Walesa does. This issue will be resolved only if it is made a political priority by the President of the United States.
The steps we made together since 1989 are not minor in history. The common successes are the proper foundation for the transatlantic renaissance we need today. This is why we believe that we should also consider the creation of a Legacy Fellowship for young leaders. Twenty years have passed since the revolutions of 1989. That is a whole generation. We need a new generation to renew the transatlantic partnership. A new program should be launched to identify those young leaders on both sides of the Atlantic who can carry forward the transatlantic project we have spent the last two decades building in Central and Eastern Europe.
In conclusion, the onset of a new Administration in the United States has raised great hopes in our countries for a transatlantic renewal. It is an opportunity we dare not miss. We, the authors of this letter, know firsthand how important the relationship with the United States has been. In the 1990s, a large part of getting Europe right was about getting Central and Eastern Europe right. The engagement of the United States was critical to locking in peace and stability from the Baltics to the Black Sea. Today the goal must be to keep Central and Eastern Europe right as a stable, activist, and Atlanticist part of our broader community.
That is the key to our success in bringing about the renaissance in the Alliance the Obama Administration has committed itself to work for and which we support. That will require both sides recommitting to and investing in this relationship. But if we do it right, the pay off down the road can be very real. By taking the right steps now, we can put it on new and solid footing for the future.
Former President of the Republic of Lithuania
Former Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to the United States
Former President of the Republic of Romania
Former Minister of International Relations and Advisor to the President, Slovak Republic
Former Defense Minister of the Czech Republic, former Ambassador to Russia
Former Secretary of State of the Hungarian MFA
Ambassador, President of the International Centre for Democratic Transition in Budapest
Former President of the Czech Republic
Former Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to the United States
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Czech Republic
Former President of the Slovak Republic
Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, Bulgaria
Former President of the Republic of Poland
Former Prime Minister of Estonia
Director of the International Centre for Defense Studies in Tallinn, Estonia
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hungary
Former Vice-president of the European Parliament, former Defense Minister, Poland
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Poland
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister, Czech Republic
Former President of the Republic Latvia
Former President of the Republic of Poland
On 17 of July at European Council on International Relations was published a letter signed by 22 former presidents, intellectual and policy makers from Central and Eastern Europe announcing their mistrust in the new rapprochement policy with Russia . Regarding the abandon of the missile shield in Poland and Czech Republic the letter pointed out: “Abandoning the program entirely or involving Russia too deeply in it without consulting Poland or the Czech Republic can undermine the credibility of the United States across the whole region”. Now Joseph Biden has toured the region proclaiming the US new vision for Eastern Europe.
End of confrontational vision.
First announcement made in the visits in Ukraine and Georgia between 20 and 24 July was the end of the confrontational vision at Black Sea that G. Bush has supported. Even the visit in those two countries was left to Joe Biden, vice-president while Barack Obama has selected Moscow as the main step on his diplomatic journey. This was a gesture never made by previous administration which only visits Moscow after visiting Romania, Poland or Baltic states in order to send an unambiguous signal that relations with Russia are determined by Russia policy in Eastern Europe. No such signal come from Obama administration, sending the vice-president was itself a sign of downgrading relations with the region. Joe Biden also announced the policymakers in Tbilisi and Kiev that now is the time to have better relations with Russia and pressured US allies like Georgia’s Saakashvili to open society and to embrace democracy reform, which was seen as a favorable moved toward pro-Russian opposition which is regularly accusing President Saakashvili of dictatorial ambition. Also in Kiev Biden didn’t missed the opportunity to meet Victor Janucovici the Kremlin backed main contender for president Victor Yushcenko for presidential bid in 2010 Ukrainian elections. A striking difference form previously US unwavering support to orange revolution leaders in Ukraine and Georgia.
Yushcenko a leader of orange revolution now abandoned ?
End of the missile shield.
Now between 20 and 23 of October vice-president Biden was in a new diplomatic journey to Eastern Europe visiting Poland, Romania and Czech Republic in order to officially announce the US redraw from the Missile Shield Plan. Announced in 2007 by Bush administration, the Missile shield was seen by many as a continuation of Reagan Star Wars, that help bring down Soviet Union economy and communism system. This time the shield, publicly oriented against Iran, was universally regarded as a pressure against Putin`s Russia. All the leaders of the region have seen this sign of US commitment to the Eastern Europe in the face of a new assertive Russian power. The Obama administration decision to build a small shield, really dedicated counter Iran ballistic system, on Black Sea in Turkey and Israel and maybe Azerbaijan, was looked as a further signed of US disengagement in the region. Joe Biden visit was projected with the purpose of calming eastern European fears and to build a new relation between US and Eastern Europe.
A new U.S. strategic vision.
Joe Biden explained in Warsaw, Bucharest and Prague that: US is not seeing Russia as an enemy and the Cold War perception of Moscow as a foe that must be isolated under an Iron Curtain is over . The result of this assertion was that US will not tolerate and support rebellious actions as Georgian-Russian war in summer of 2008 or Ukraine pressure on Russian navy or Romanian plans to counter Russian influence at Black sea and Polish pressure in Belarus. All this actions of harassment backed by previous US administration must end.
Also US is ready to sponsor a detente in the Eastern Europe- Russia relations based on economic and cultural relations and on a new vision of a common economic space between Russia and Europe. This vision of peaceful cooperation is not shared in the region , the 22 former leaders wanted a tougher stance on Kremlin: “When it comes to Russia, our experience has been that a more determined and principled policy toward Moscow will not only strengthen the West’s security but will ultimately lead Moscow to follow a more cooperative policy as well”. The US response is a startling: No! to this vision.
Saakashvili sacrified on the altar of a new US-Russia relationship ?
A space of economic cooperation.
Instead of political confrontation from Baltic to Black Sea Joe Biden is wanting to see economic cooperation and more precisely: energy cooperation. In Poland he was spoken about energy routes in the Baltic linking Russia and Europe closer, in Romania was speaking about Trieste- Constanta gas pipeline and a liquid gas terminal at Constanta, based on Qatari gas transported to Romania and from here to Western Europe. Also Biden expressed support not for EU backed Nabucco pipeline, destined to override Russia as a gas supplier to Europe but to South Line, a Russian sponsored gas pipeline. To measure what a disappointment this speech will be for Eastern Europe leaders I quote one more time from there letter: „Central and Eastern European countries should lobby harder … for diversification of the energy mix, suppliers, and transit routes, as well as for tough legal scrutiny of Russia’s abuse of its monopoly and cartel-like power inside the EU. But American political support on this will play a crucial role. Similarly, the United States can play an important role in solidifying further its support for the Nabucco pipeline”.
Finaly Joe Biden signaled in all the capitals his wish for a new generation of leaders in Eastern Europe capable to understand the necessity of a new policy towards Russia, in Bucharest, he was paying a lot of attention to opposition leaders in order to signal the US disinterest in the fate of Romanian president Traian Basescu, a former darling of Bush administration, and the play was repeated over and over in Warsaw and Prague.
Lessons of Joe Biden visits.
First it is interest to point out that Biden avoid going to Baltic States , shattered by economic crisis , isolated in EU and pressured by Russia, a sign that Baltic States must first end there anti-Russian stance and normalize relations with Kremlin. Also Biden didn’t visit Bulgaria that already switch to a more conciliatory stance with Russia accepting Russian pipelines on his territory, supporting Russia in Kosovo, Serbia and Balkans relation and opened for strategic business partnership with Russia. Also Hungary that signed 10 billion agreement on gas, energy and oil with Russia accepting to become Russia`s main energy partner in the region was avoided. For Bulgaria and Hungary the new Washington vision was already in place; make business not war was the tune form White House. This was a visit to last remaining pro-Bush strongholds: Poland, Romania and Czech Republic destined to signal that US is redrawing support for confrontational vision. Cohabitation with Russia is a must for the new leaders of the region.
Professor Anton Caragea PhD ,MA, FINS
Honduras coup d’état: will Latin America return to era of military dictatorship? by Professor Anton Caragea Ph.D, MA ,FINS
At the early hours of 28 of June 300 military enter the Honduras Presidential Palace, disarmed the Presidential Guard and arrest the President Manuel Zelaya. The President was quickly exiled to Costa Rica while the landlords Parliaments appointed a poppet president , one of the richest men in the country. The first word of the deposed President: this is a coup d’état not only against Honduras but the world? Is he right?
Why was ousted Manuel Zelaya?
In only 3 years after winning the presidential poll in 2006 Manuel Zelaya has being the champion of three major reforms in his country that made him powerful enemies. The first of his planned reforms is a land reform, necessary in a country where 7.000 people (around 0, 1 percent of country population) are owners of 80% percent of the land. The social problem in Honduras is dramatically, with 50% percent of the population below poverty line and unemployment of more than 1, 7 million people the situation is critical. The land reform program was destined to increase little farm, to support city poor from slams to engage in agriculture or alternative economic sectors. But the land owners fight with ferocity to blocked this initiative of President Zelaya as they opposed social program for building roads, sanitation and social houses in the poorest area of the country as they claimed this project where economic unrealistically.
Second project of Zelaya was the constitutional reform needed in a country with social problems, economical unfair system and under an oligarchy rule for more than 50 years. Let’s not forget that the current Constitution was forged under the watchful eye of the military dictatorship and was a condition of the military leaders to restore civilian rule after 20 years of military rule. Zelaya had tried to transform his country in a participative democracy with popular referendum, local’s consultation, extended presidential term and social and economic support for the poor. These changes in the constitution will empower president to make economical reform to improve the living standards of life in the poor stricken country. The Honduras elite quickly turn into a trans-party alliance of the rich and started to plot the unseat of the president. The decisive moment was the announcement of a non-binding referendum that will prove to the world the Honduras people will for change and constitutional reform. As poll suggested that the referendum will give a more than 70% percent backing to the presidential plan the opposition launch the coup d’état at the first day of the referendum and burn the ballot boxes.
The third project that created distrust in the President was the moral project, a campaign destined to disclose high pay for the official, to launch corruption enquiry in high state official fortune. This measure cost the president the support of his own Liberal Party made of influential characters many with strong economic ties, the board of the party decided that Zelaya is a loose cannon and a danger to his own party and redrew support for his projects.
The coup will decide Latin America future.
If the coup d’état will work this will be a signal for Latin America that the old days of military dictatorship are back. Already there are frictions between the army and the head of state in Ecuador, Bolivia and Argentina. Bolivian president Evo Morales just survive an attempt to his life mounted by extreme right in Bolivia and a military plot was uncover in 2008. Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez was already a victim of a coup d’état attempt in April 2002 and Rafael Correa of Ecuador was also under threat of military intervention. If Honduras attempt will be a successful one will launch a string of military intervention across Latin America destabilizing the region. Already the European Union expressed a strong support for President Zelaya and Organization of American State expressed recognition for Zelaya as the sole president of Honduras. Strangely enough the US reaction was equivocal voicing only concern for Constitutional rule, an expression that the coup leaders will take as a support of the Constitution and Zelaya`s supporters also as a support of their call for democracy. In the light of this feeble response questions are poring: was possible that the Honduras military, a long time allied of US to mount a coup d’état without Washington knowledge or consent? Was possible that leaders of the opposition with CIA connection did not ask for support and council for the CIA head quarter before moving to oust the president? Only the future statements from the White House and a clear and sever condemnation of the coup leaders will fade away this worries.
Will Latin America intervene?
The Honduras coup d’état is a threat to the stability in Latin America announced Hugo Chavez in Managua together with his Nicaragua, Ecuador and Bolivia counterparts , also this was expressed by European Union representatives voicing support for the people of Honduras who rise against the military took over the country. Now the major issue is, will be Latin America strong enough and united enough to topple the military regime in Honduras? On this question the future of the region hang in balance.
DIALOGUE ON AFRICA AND EUROPE Friday 18 September 2009 HE. Ambassador of Federal Republic of Nigeria Mba Ama Mba and Professor Anton Caragea, have a long dialogue on Africa-Europe relationship. The discussion was concentrated in an evaluation of European Union role in stabilizing and promoting democracy in Africa and on Nigeria role in development of Africa. Ambassador Mba Ama Mba has promoted in the last year a strong economic and cultural diplomacy between Romania and Nigeria. With his support more than 10 political, economic, cultural and social delegation and events where hosted by the Federal Republic of Nigeria Embassy offering a new image to the African country in Romania. The reaction of Romanian economic environment was a very energetic one, with the help of ambassador Mba Ama Mba , the economic exchange between the two countries has sharply increase. At the end of the encounter professor Anton Caragea has praised Ambassador Mba efforts for developing Nigeria-Romania cooperation and said that Africa will be a priority for Romania in the next ten years not only in the Barcelona Process framework but even on a national agenda. PRESS DEPARTMENT
DIALOGUE ON AFRICA AND EUROPE
Friday 18 September 2009 HE. Ambassador of Federal Republic of Nigeria Mba Ama Mba and Professor Anton Caragea, have a long dialogue on Africa-Europe relationship. The discussion was concentrated in an evaluation of European Union role in stabilizing and promoting democracy in Africa and on Nigeria role in development of Africa. Ambassador Mba Ama Mba has promoted in the last year a strong economic and cultural diplomacy between Romania and Nigeria. With his support more than 10 political, economic, cultural and social delegation and events where hosted by the Federal Republic of Nigeria Embassy offering a new image to the African country in Romania. The reaction of Romanian economic environment was a very energetic one, with the help of ambassador Mba Ama Mba , the economic exchange between the two countries has sharply increase. At the end of the encounter professor Anton Caragea has praised Ambassador Mba efforts for developing Nigeria-Romania cooperation and said that Africa will be a priority for Romania in the next ten years not only in the Barcelona Process framework but even on a national agenda.
EUROPEAN COUNCIL ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS INVITED AT UNITED ARAB EMIRATES 38-th NATIONAL DAY CELEBRATIONS
Between 19 to 24 November 2009 Professor Anton Caragea, president of European Council on International Relations (EUCIR) was invited to participate at the 38 Celebration of National Day of United Arab Emirates. This was the first participation from European Council on International Relations to the National celebration of United Arab Emirates. Professor Anton Caragea, president of EUCIR and H.E.Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan – Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research
Between 19 to 24 November 2009 Professor Anton Caragea, president of European Council on International Relations (EUCIR) was invited to participate at the 38 Celebration of National Day of United Arab Emirates. This was the first participation from European Council on International Relations to the National celebration of United Arab Emirates.
Professor Anton Caragea, president of EUCIR and H.E.Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan – Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research
The invitation was issued by the National Media Council of United Arab Emirates and was destined to support an increase in bilateral relations and mutual knowledge. The program for the visit was very dense and full with high level meeting destined to offer to participants a deep knowledge of the United Arab Emirates prominent place in today`s world. The delegation has meet with His Highness Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President of UAE, Prime-minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, H.E. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan – Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research, H.E. Dr. Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, H.E. Sheikh Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister for Foreign Trade, Sultan Al Jaber CEO- Masdar etc. Also the delegation received a complimentary tour of the most successful projects of United Arab Emirates as Yas Island- the place for a real estate revolution and Saadiyat Island, a project of the most complex cultural and green city in the region. Without a doubt the most important moment of the visit was the reception hosted by His Highness Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President of UAE, Prime-minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai that expressed his willingness to make all the necessary efforts to assure the brightest future to united Arab Emirates, to increase economic capacity of the country and to foster relations with all the of European Union and with a special emphasis on European markets as a hub for United Arab Emirates products and technologies invested in Europe. The participation of professor Anton Caragea as representative of European Council on International Relations at this important anniversary of 38 years of independence of United Arab Emirates was in itself a symbol of the willingness from both side to create what Professor Anton Caragea, EUCIR president declared a strategic partnership between European Union and United Arab Emirates.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES AND EUROPE - A STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP
“Europe is praising the vision of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan”(Professor Anton Caragea ,president of EUCIR )
United Arab Emirates are celebrating on 2 of December the 38 anniversary of the Independence Day, a day of special significance not only for the Emirates but for the entire area of Persian Gulf and Middle East. In these 38 years of independence the progresses registered by the United Arab Emirates under the visionary leadership of late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan and after 2004 under the His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan where outstanding. United Arab Emirates build in the region a climate of peace, equilibrium and economic and political cooperation and obtained achievements praised internationally. For Europe the connection with United Arab Emirates is one of the most important in the area, Europe appreciates the United Arab Emirates commitment in helping nations worldwide to achieve development, also Europe is praising the vision of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in constructing a leadership role in a new stage of development for the UAE that will witness the empowerment of his nation and its emergence on the global scene as a major world player.
Also His Highness expressed the Government’s commitment to strengthen the private sector, encourage investment projects, and expand in industry, tourism, construction while protecting the environment. For all this reasons Europe considers United Arab Emirates a privileged partner in the Gulf Area and a country that will lead into XXI century. As a sign of respect for the splendid achievements of United Arab Emirates in this 38 years from independence, practically Europe will celebrate for all month of November 2009 the National Anniversary of United Arab Emirates, a day that many Europe are seeing as a day of a friendly country that is leading the way of development into XXI century and is considered in Europe as a long term strategic partner
by Professor Anton Caragea
In only three month the US Middle East envoy, George Mitchell made two visits to Damascus prompting the world attention to the new place of Syria in the region. What is the new role of Syria in Barrack Obama vision of peace for the Middle East?
Syria: an astonishing survival.
In 2003 Syria seemed to be on the brink of the abyss: a US lead invasion of Iraq has turn up side down the region, G. Bush placed Syria on the list of state to be attacked , in Lebanon US sponsored the anti-Syrian opposition in the hope that will further isolate Syria. The death of Hafez al Assad in 2000 and the ascension to power of a young leader, Bashar al Assad made the situation even more fragile. In this difficult climate of isolation, war in Iraq, US pressures and sanctions , Syria succeeded a remarkable transformation.
First step was made by bringing to power a generation of very effective , western educated leaders that transformed the country in just a few years: Dr.Mohsen Bilal, a very efficient minister of information that transformed the media landscape of the country offering open gates policy to private newspapers and media channels ,Wallid Al Moallem, Foreign Affairs Minister of Syria succeed in promoting a new image of his country tacking Syria out of the isolation , Dr. Faissal Mqdad, vice-minister of Foreign Affairs supported this active and efficient diplomacy transforming Syria in a diplomatic Mecca in the last five years supported in this efforts by professional diplomats like Walid Othman and other dedicated diplomats and the charismatic Mr. Saadala Agaa, Minister of Tourism, that made Syria a touristic power in the region busting countries revenues from tourism . This new team brought to power by President Bashar al Assad succeeded simultaneous in disengaging Syria from Lebanon, restoring diplomatic ties with Lebanon, sheltering 1, 5 million refugees from Iraq (a humanitarian crisis of never viewed scale), creating economic development of 5% percent per year, closing the border to Iraq for terrorist group and having an effective diplomacy in the region and developing connection with European Union. This mixture of powerful diplomacy, open society and strong democracy made Syria a key for peace in the region. The assessment of first nine year of Bashar al Assad in power is a strong positive one.
No peace without Syria.
An Arab diplomatic wisdom is saying that in Middle East could not be a war without Egypt and peace without Syria. The latest years offers a new meaning to this word of wisdom. Syria has proven to be a force for peace in the region and a fundamental actor: supporting Hezbollah in his resistance made Syria a part of the reconstruction of Lebanon security and peace and in may 2009 election when Hezbollah lost the Lebanese elections Syria supported the peaceful recognition of the election results and the creation of a unity government. Also the Syrian diplomatic campaign for Golan was a new success, even US announcing that Israel must relinquish the Golan Heights to rightful owner: Syria, in the peace processes. The open relation with Turkey, accepting Turkey mediation with Israel and the worming relation with Iraq and Golf States transformed Syria in the diplomatic rally point for France ( N. Sarcozy visit Damascus in 2008 , Bernard Kouchner , French foreign minister in 2008 and 2009) or for Qatar diplomacy. Even in 2008 Bashar al Assad was invited for 14 July celebration in France, an honor that only few have.
Visit in Damascus for the eyes of Tel Aviv.
The US diplomatic overture to Syria is destined no doubt to exercise pressure on Israel. The US-Israel relation are suffering from a diplomatic cold after the Barrack Obama speech in Cairo and US decision to pressure Israel for a halt in settlements construction and to re-open dialogue with Palestinian Authority. Until now Israeli government choose to ignore the joint US-European Union- Russia pressure for a sincere dialogue with Palestine Authority and for halting the settlements in territories occupied after 1967 war. The US decision to send a new ambassador in Damascus and European Union rapprochement with Syria, all indicate that Israel could not hope indefinitely to go against international community wishes.
Now G. Mitchell goes to Damascus with a solid agenda: peace talks, returning Golan Heights to Syria, Damascus aid in stabilizing Iraq, removing Syria from US black list etc. Especially Washington is interested in having Syrian backing for a swift resolution of Iraq conflict to relinquish the US troops station there. US are conscience that after the US army pull back Iraq will descend in anarchy and havoc. US are trying to support a second way: a Syrian model of open society, secular state, political equilibrium that will satisfy also Kurdish autonomy ambition and Sunni worries over a Shia controlled Iraq. This Syrian model in Iraq depends on Damascus support and is a valuable asset in US- Syria negotiation. G. Mitchell is now in Damascus and already announced that what will be back.
Now the question is if US has embarked only in a charmed offensive to worry Israel or really G. Mitchell found on the road to Damascus the light of a new policy for the region?