Friday, January 20, 2006

Ukraine, Turkey, Germany

So that there is no confusion on my thinking on Ukraine--I believe that a strong Ukraine is absolutely vital to the stability and prosperity of Europe and Eurasia. Indeed, I've always felt that effective Eurasian integration can only occur when you have Ukraine and Kazakhstan able to deal with Russia from positions of strength.

But I'm tired of the Ukraine bait and switch here in Washington--where policymakers and pundits talk a good game about integrating Ukraine into the Euro-Atlantic community but are unprepared to pay the costs.

If U.S. national interests are best served by substantially changing the balance of power in Eurasia--and one can make a case for acting now to reshape the Eurasian environment, say by a major expansion of NATO--then do it--and be prepared for what it will cost.

Instead, Ukraine is being "Turkified"--if I can create that adjective. Remember how Turkey was promised it would be brought into the European community--by Charles de Gaulle? That was BEFORE I WAS BORN. For more than forty years, Turkey has been kept on the interdeterminate list. There were good reasons, but at what point should the Europeans have levelled with the Turks and said, full membership is not guaranteed to be on the table?

Ukrainians are being told they have a "European/Western" choice to make--but in reality they don't have a choice to the extent the Western option is not viable.

And speaking of Turkey--let's round out the discussion by talking about the two visits of Angela Merkel, to Washington and Moscow.

I recognize that symbolism and "impressions" are important components in the conduct of international affairs. Merkel has a much better relationship with Bush than her predecessor, and that was made abudantly clear. Similarly, I doubt Merkel will be getting any invitations to cozy get-togethers with the Putins at their dacha.

But what about the substance? Merkel could not give Washington firm assurances on two matters which are high-priority for the United States--that Turkey is on track for EU membership, not a "privileged partnership", and that Berlin sees eye to eye not only on the Iranian threat but what to do about it. Certainly a better dialogue than with Schroeder, that is for sure--but still nothing firm.

And while Merkel and Putin are "colleagues" rather than "friends" the core of the Russian-German partnership remains unaffected. The Baltic pipeline project is on track, Siemens is buying into a major Russian military-industrial complex, trade and business ties continue without interruption. Sure, Merkel met with NGO leaders in Moscow--just as Bush went to church in Beijing. Important symbolic gestures--but with the message that the core relationship remains unaffected.

Comments:
Right. On the one hand. On the other, please don't forget that we need Putin for dealing with Iran. There are plenty of aspects - not only the integration of Ukraine. It was Merkel's first visit as a chancellor. There seems to be a very good cooperation on Tehran. First things first.
 
I'll be first in line to recognize that Russia is key to solving the Iranian crisis on American terms. But whereas Turkey is already, despite the tardiness, firmly within the Western orbit, Ukraine is teetering on the brink of a retrograde election and Moscow-tilted satrapy. This is unacceptable. Pushing out and maintaining stable ordered-liberty frontiers requires a free and increasingly prosperous Ukraine.

On that note, we the West should be entirely willing to "buy" Ukraine from Russia -- making sure that Moscow holds up its end of the transaction. The entry of Ukraine into the West, however, can be done on those terms in a gradual, methodical way. Although Turkey may be frustrated at the excruciating slowness of its accession to the EU, from a U.S. perspective that sort of creeping membership would be far better than many alternatives for Ukraine. Let Ukraine move slowly toward the West -- so long as it moves inexorably.
 
"Ukraine is teetering on the brink of a retrograde election and Moscow-tilted satrapy. This is unacceptable."

Go to the web page of your very own CIA: cia.gov, and find the link to their World Factbook. Compare the vital statistics found there for Ukraine and that "Moscow-tilting satrapy" Belarus. You will find there that people in Belarus have a higher birth rate, a lower death rate, and have fewer of their babies die than people in Ukraine.

Belarus:
http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/bo.html

Ukraine:
http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/up.html

Perhaps you will then come to understand that, for the people who have to live there, there are worse things than living in a "Moscow-tilting satrapy". And one of them is living in a "Washington-tilting satrapy".
 
No one in Washington seems to recognize that the west orientation only benefits a few elites in the post Soviet space, the ordinary person still depends on the tie to Russia. Saakashvili and his cronies can go to the west but the average georgian doesn't have that luxury.
 
I have to disagree that Turkey is "firmly in the Western orbit." Turkey could easily spin out of the Western orbit if its interests are constantly ignored.

Turkey is not threatened by Russia the way Turkey was threatened by the USSR. In fact, Turkey has booming relations with Russia and similar perspectives about the international system. Turkey is also not threatened by Iran. There is no incentive for Ankara to carry Washington's water in needlessly antagonzing Moscow or Tehran if Washington can't guarantee that there will be no Kurdistan and that Turkey will be admitted to the EU.
 
The comparison of Belarus-Ukraine made by Anonymous misses the larger point -- if a country desires economic growth, rising living standards, and individual liberty, it must adopt a "western" model. The tired old authoritarian model offers nothing in the long run other than being left behind by the modern world.

It's in the interests of the Russians themselves (though not their leaders) that this model take root in the FSU.
 
"The comparison of Belarus-Ukraine made by Anonymous misses the larger point -- if a country desires economic growth, rising living standards, and individual liberty, it must adopt a "western" model. The tired old authoritarian model offers nothing in the long run other than being left behind by the modern world"

And life. But I guess that's still missing the point.

"It's in the interests of the Russians themselves (though not their leaders) that this model take root in the FSU."

Interesing that you know so much about what is in the interests of the Russians themselves. Pray tell Charlie, how did you acquire it? Or are you just upset that Vladimir differs from Boris in that dosen't say "How high?" on the way up when the US says "Jump!"?
 
What did Putin for Russia and neighbouring countries?


Improved democracy and freedom? - No.
Reformed economy? - No.
Solved problem at Caucasus? - No.


What is a reality in Russia:

Putin became billionaire!

- confiscation of big private businesses
- just illusion of stability
- corruption is flourishing everywhere
- no democracy, no free press and no real freedom of speach.
- rising costs of living.
- 60% of budget comes from oil and gas
- no economic reform
- militarisation
- exKGB and FSB officers rule almost everything
- intimidation & economic and political provocations in neighbouring countries and EU
- growing xenophobia and nationalism



Russia is going to collaps and nightmere just after the prices for oil drop less 45$. The question is just time.....
 
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