Europe, USA and Russia – use the opportunity for détente

Europe, USA and Russia – use the opportunity for détente

by Karl Müller

OSCE staff in Vienna – and not those from Russia – have mentioned that in the past three years US government representatives have tried again and again, with unconvincing “evidence” and insinuations, to spin propaganda against Russia. The goal was to expose Russia for the situation in Ukraine and to create a Cold War atmosphere. Within OSCE, this was so far only partially successful due to honest and responsible staff and politicians. And if a new US policy in dealing with Russia was now really taking place, there might be a real chance to form the work in OSCE such that there could be more compromise, on a factual base, to the benefit of all participating states and peoples.
But there are also forces upset by this prospect. On 9 January 2017, 17 former and still active politicians from central and eastern European states including the Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, the President of Bulgaria, Rosen Plevneliev, the Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the former Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski and the former Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg have written a letter to the US President-elect Donald Trump, prompting him to continue the confrontational politics of his preceding governments. The authors’ accusations against Russia are all well-known and need not be discussed here. However, their statements regarding the question what had connected them with the present US politics: “When America called on us in the past, we came. We were with you in Iraq. We were with you in Afghanistan. We took risks together; sacrificed sons and daughters together.”
Obviously the letter’s authors find it worth mentioning that they were sharing the responsibility for wars violating international law which have caused millions of human victims (mostly in the attacked countries), with the destruction of states and cultures and the creation of a hotbed for international terrorism – and all this is considered positive. Shouldn’t we doubt the letter’s authors’ honesty, if they write in relation to Russia that “A deal with Putin will not bring peace. On the contrary, it makes war more likely.”? And isn’t it a good time for Europe to stop for a moment and to realize who has been controlling the political agenda on this continent in the past years and still intends to control?
But there are other voices, too: early in December Germans and US-Americans have published an appeal titled “Stop the Spiral of Violence – for a New Policy of Peace and Détente now!” (<link http: en appeal external-link seite:> Meanwhile they have found many supporters from all over the world. The signers are invoking the “Paris Charter” of November 1990, a joint resolution of all OSCE states where all governments committed themselves to create an order of peace for all of Europe. The appeal further states: “Today, a broad public and multi-partisan discussion on the demand for a ‘new policy of détente NOW’ is more necessary than ever. The confrontation in Europe has to cease and – with benefits to the whole world – an All-European zone of ‘common security’ through the cooperation of all states from Vancouver to Vladivostok must be created.”
We do not have to share all its statements, but this appeal is different from the 17 politicians’ letter. Europe urgently needs something different from even more confrontation with Russia: a reflection of European values and an honest identity, a healthy strength and a commitment for law and prevention of war – and, urgently: good diplomacy and compromise.    •

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