In the past few days I have read two different types of texts. One is the book “The Putin Interviews – Oliver Stone interviews Vladimir Putin” (ISBN 1510733434, 9781510733435) which was published in September last year. The American director, screenwriter and producer Oliver Stone visited Russian President Putin four times between July 2015 and February 2017 and recorded interviews with him over several days for a documentary film. Now these interviews are also available in German in book form.
On the other hand, the speeches of numerous politicians at this year’s Munich Security Conference, in particular the speeches of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the German Minister Ursula von der Leyen, the British War Minister Gavin Williamson, the US Vice President Michael Richard Pence and the former US Vice President Joseph R. Biden – but also those of the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the representative of the People’s Republic of China, Yang Jiechi. These speeches are easy to find on the website of the Security Conference (https://www.securityconference.de/aktivitaeten/munich-security-conference/msc-2019/reden/), Joseph R. Biden’s speech so far only as a video (https://www.securityconference.de/en/media-library/munich-security-conference-2019/video/statement-by-joeseph-r-biden-jr-followed-by-qa/).
These speeches and the event in Munich as a whole have left the following impressions:
No less important than the contents of what was said, was the attitude of the NATO speakers: Down from the high horse. Do NATO leaders still believe they are the masters (male or female) of the world and have to decide what is good and what is bad, and what should happen on this planet? They all used the same rhetoric. And with their talk of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and human dignity, they are committing a terrible abuse with such important words.
Yes, unfortunately it has to be said: The only words that brought people together in the relationship between the great powers came from the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Everyone can also read his speech (www.mid.ru/en/press_service/minister_speeches/-/asset_publisher/7OvQR5KJWVmR/content/id/3520272). Lavrov mentioned some unpleasant facts by name, but also pointed out again what perspectives there were for all states and peoples of the Eurasian continent: Namely not that of a bitter competition (this is how it is seen in the NATO states), but a cooperation in as many areas as possible with simultaneous acceptance of the independence and sovereignty of all states and peoples.
And that brings me to the book with the Putin interviews. I highly recommend reading this book. A politician who is demonised by those responsible in the NATO states shows himself to be a statesman who meets his counterpart on equal terms, prudently, moderately, responsibly, knowledgeably down to the last detail and carefully studying – without the enemy images so widespread in our country. This entails a recovery from the Munich Security Conference 2019. •
1 The explanations of the term “rules-based order” range from a simple translation, i.e. a “rule-based order”, to a hegemony under US American auspices. A blogger of the US Council on Foreign Relations wrote on 3 May 2016 on foreignaffairs.com (“World Order: What, Exactly, are the Rules?”) to explain the concept that “there exists a Western liberal international order whose distinctive values, norms, laws, and institutions were designed to inform and govern state conduct. This order originated in Europe but achieved full expression only with the U.S. rise to global leadership (or hegemony), as the post-1945 United States combined power and purpose to forge a multilateral world order, using a mixture of persuasion, incentives, and coercion to do so.” In the English-language edition of Wikipedia, the following can be read: “In international relations, the liberal international economic order (LIEO), also known as the rules-based order or the US-led liberal international order, is a notion that contemporary international relations are organised around several guiding principles, such as open markets, multilateral institutions, liberal democracy, and leadership by the United States and its allies. The order was established in the aftermath of World War II, and is often associated with Pax Americana.” It is therefore understandable that Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, in the discussion that followed his presentation at the Security Conference in Munich on 16 February, said the following: “Our Western colleagues use the terms ‘international law’ and‚ norms of international law’ only rarely these days. Instead, they are talking about a ‘rules-based order’ claiming that it is the same thing. However, they prefer using their own term rather than ‘international law.’ As I see it, they do not want to comply with international law as it is sealed in, say, the Chemical Weapons Convention, which has been ratified by all members of the international community. They only want to use the ‘rules’ which they have invented themselves in order to interpret the convention in violation of its established procedures.”
2 A look at current German textbooks for political education shows just how far the standardisation process has come. Here, there is no longer factual information, but the language regulations of the NATO states are adopted without criticism. For example, in the book “Zeitfragen. Politische Bildung für berufliche Schulen” (“Current concerns. Political education for vocational schools”) by the renowned Klett publishing house in Stuttgart on page 211 about the Ukraine conflict. One task, for example, is: “For the EU, the integration of the Crimea by Russia is an annexation and violates international law. It imposed economic and political sanctions (punitive measures) against Russia for this step. List arguments with which such measures can be justified.” Are German students only allowed to get familiar with NATO’s point of view?
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