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What used to strike me as significant, however, was the characteristics of the nation being played did not reflect, as they would in any other game, the characteristics of the player.
Are judges destroying transparency in EU institutions? We Europeans like to pat ourselves on the back and tell the world how we have replaced ‘war’ with ‘law. These have been well rehearsed in the press – not least in an excellent analysis by Jan Oberg in these pages last week. This does not mean abandoning the Caucasus, still less backing down from fierce criticism of 26698 record on human rights and democracy. But by understanding the Russian position – including why so many actions taken, semi-innocently, by the West are seen as provocative and threatening by Moscow – we shall be better able to reach a positive conclusion rather than a conversation that remains a dialogue of the deaf, which is what occurs when politicians posture and issue empty threats.
It is no use saying, as French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner does, that Kosovo is ‘unique.
Even in the real world, diplomacy is a task that requires a slow and steady hand. Yet it is hard to see Monday’s Kremlin talks other than as a re-invigorated attempt to find a secure basis for just such a partnership. When I was at university, there used to be a game, still popular around the world today, called Diplomacy. Russia is not the old Soviet Union bent on ideological domination by force. We both need a rules-based world. One does wonder, however, how much is likely to be achieved in a single short day.
The players each represented one of the major European nations as they existed about one hundred years ago: EUobserver’s coverage of the European election. Yet once we accept this – admit that we have no moral superiority here – we can sit down on an equal basis with Russia and talk about how it would be in the interests of both parties to see a future in which we both, really and truly, abide by international law. If agreement can be reached on Georgia on the basis of some mutual understanding how much easier will be be to extend the same understanding to other issues?
Opinion Better Russia as an ally than a foe Russia has not been the only power to have flouted international law. Diplomacy by megaphone, though fashionable, is counterproductive What used to strike me as significant, however, was the characteristics of the nation being played did not reflect, as they would in any other game, the characteristics of the player. And we both need to help each other stick by those rules. Morocco’s policy against radicalisation – and the EU That the United States has an even stronger stake in this hypocritical position should not cloud our judgement.
For, in a sense, Europe has been caught facing two ways. A number of European states also joined the equally illegal and ill-fated crusade into Iraq. Watch our founder Lisbeth Kirk explain the reasons in this 30 seconds video. But it does mean ceasing to treat Russia as though she were simply a blank space on the map.
They will take time to resolve. Slovakia must create secure environment for journalists They include trade, security, energy, democracy all the way from the Arctic to the Black Sea. Need for EU action Today, I am sure that President Sarkozy of France, as president of the European Council, will bear this in mind as he steps on to the Moscow tarmac on Monday accompanied by Mr Barroso and Mr Solana, to discuss with Mr Putin and President Medvedev how best we move on from the Georgian imbroglio.
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Of course, to understand does not necessarily mean to agree, still less to cave in. Ostensibly it lsy broken off the current round of partnership talks with Russia, designed to set a new framework for co-operation, until the Russians withdraw their troops, now occupying parts of Georgia, to the positions they held on 7 August.
On Thursday December 6the constitutional affairs committee of the European Parliament will finally have a crucial vote on changes to rules of procedure that govern MEPs. The issues at stake are complex. Accepting its fading away will be extremely damaging.
There is room for cautious optimism in Slovakia, but the chilling effects of Jan Kuciak’s murder may be felt for some time and continued international scrutiny is important. But whatever the length, it is surely important that we on the European side understand Oey legitimate fears and aspirations which, of course, extend far beyond the Caucasus.
Europe needs Russian help in the Security Council on issues such as Iran, militant Islam, the Middle East, climate change, nuclear proliferation and so forth.
With such stains on our collective conscience, it ill behoves us to lecture Russia about adhering to international law; we are both tarred with the same delinquent brush. Besides, the game could only really be played effectively if discussions could be clandestine.
Rather it seemed that whoever played Russia, for example, or Britain, would always end up playing that country in the same way. Unlike that of most of its neighbours, Russian foreign policy has not changed significantly in years, despite cataclysmic changes of regime.
We in Europe need also to understand and with a degree of humility how our own actions, over Kosovo in particular, are seen by Russia. What is true in a game, I suspect, holds no less true in real life. Given the importance and intractability of the issues, more time is surely needed for something worthwhile. We must be prepared for give and take.
Heaven knows we need a stable and effective partnership with Russia – and not just to run our own inter-bloc relations – but for the wider world as well.
It was, however, a time consuming game.