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Being a citizen on the way towards a multipolar world

by Karl Müller

One might get dizzy overseeing the events of the last two weeks. But one should not get paralysed.

The Russian and the Turkish presidents are meeting in Moscow with full honours, speaking for a substantial improvement of their relations. Once again there are plans to build the pipeline for Russian gas through the Black Sea and over the Turkish mainland; there is to be closer collaboration in the fight against the IS and for an end of the war in Syria. – Only a few weeks ago those politicians were considered arch-enemies, rhetoric was pointed and there were many signs for an escalation of the conflict.
Once again, western commentators were quick to agree that we are witnessing two forces combining their powers and conspiring against the West. It is a case of downright spin doctoring.
Almost concomitantly with the Russian-Turkish approach, there were reports that “Switzerland is seeking proximity to Russia” (“Tages-Anzeiger”, 9 August). Swiss politicians are demanding a rapprochement with Russia. In October, the President of the Russian Federation Council will follow an invitation to Switzerland. She will meet the President of the Council of States. The negotiations on a free trade agreement, which have previously been placed on hold, are to be continued. FDP National Councillor Hans-Peter Portmann is quoted as saying that Switzerland should try to reduce its economic dependence from the EU: “This includes expanding trade with markets like Russia”.
Then, towards the weekend, there is the news that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is threatening to escalate again. The Russian government is speaking of a severe incident and the participation of national Ukrainian institutions in a failed terror attack on the Crimean peninsula. Two Russians had been killed in an anti-terror mission. Russia’s president has indicated that this will not be considered a basis for negotiations with the Ukrainian president – talks had been planned for September on the side lines of the G-20 summit. Russia has reinforced its troops on the Crimean, and intends to install state-of-the-art defence systems. The Ukrainian government has put its troops on alert and summoned additional units towards the Crimean.
Western media are rejecting the Russian claims, continuing their Anti-Russia campaign. This also includes ignoring or shrugging off those groups within Ukraine actively pursuing peace for the country. Who is aware of the fact that during all of July there has been a peace march of thousands of devout Christians in Ukraine, leading from the east and the west towards the capital Kiev in order to contribute to reconciliation in the country? And even those who have found reports have mainly come across polemics.
The way from a unipolar to a multipolar world has many bends. A glance into our history textbooks shows that change often comes with uncertainties, and that the final result usually remains open for a long time.
There are radical policy changes, coalition changes and shifts of perspectives, and many a state or people may easily take a battering.
We cannot expect much help from most of the media in times like this. Too strongly bonded with the powerful, they are no longer on the side of the citizens but part of the political operations. Like in a war, political decisions are centralised; many things are “sacrificed”, but nobody is playing with open cards. The bonum commune is falling by the wayside.
Indeed, the West is in deep trouble. The national debts and the bloated financial markets are a warning sign. Changes will be unavoidable. The question is where the journey will go. It seems that we don’t have much to expect from current plans.
Those who remain on the gallery, paralysed, have no chance to participate. It is better to start thinking laterally.
For example: What are the opportunities available if Russia and Turkey really come to an understanding? Would it curb the other NATO states’ power hunger? Could the conflicts in the Caucasus be de-escalated? Would it mean hope for people in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East?
Other possible thougts could be: What would a real rapprochement between Switzerland and Russia mean? Who knows what the outcome of the negotiations with the EU will be and what the EU will do if it fails to have its own way? Switzerland could also be a role model for other European states. Peace with Russia can be beneficial for almost everyone: politically, economically, culturally… and most of all humanely.
And how should we deal with those who like to object? Perhaps not to be so easily impressed – and to say again and again what we think. A great many people are thinking that way.     •