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Current Concerns  >  2012  >  No 12, 19 March 2012  >  There would be a lot of good foundation for more cooperation between Europe and Russia [printversion]

There would be a lot of good foundation for more cooperation between Europe and Russia

After the presidential election in Russia

by Karl Müller

After the presidential elections in Russia, we can hear voices here and there even in our part of the world that focus on the political future of a coexistence between Russia and Europe. One of these voices is that of the former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who expressed in a radio interview with the Deutschlandfunk on 7 March that Europe and Russia – both of them – could greatly benefit of a “partnership for modernization”.

Vladimir Putin lead in a similar direction in an extensive newspaper article on 27 February (the Russian news agency Ria Novosti has translated the text of the article into English, it may be found at:

Putin proposes “moving toward the creation of a common economic and human space from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean”. His aim is “that we work toward creating a harmonious community of economies from Lisbon to Vladivostok, which will, in the future, evolve into a free trade zone and even more advanced forms of economic integration”.

The article by Vladimir Putin is also of great interest in other respects and could provide a basis for a constructive dialogue about the challenges lying ahead and the cooperation in world politics.

Putin writes: “As before, I believe that the major principles necessary for any feasible civilization include inalienable right to security for all states, the inadmissability of the excessive use of force, and the unconditional observance of the basic principles of international law. To neglect any of these principles can only lead to the destabilization of international relations.”

Putin reminds of the norms of international law: “It is often said that human rights override state sovereignty. This is undoubtedly true – crimes against humanity must be punished by the International Court. However, when state sovereignty is too easily violated in the name of this provision, when human rights are protected from abroad and on a selective basis, and when the same rights of a population are trampled underfoot in the process of such ‘protection’, including the most basic and sacred right – the right to one’s life – these actions cannot be considered a noble mission but rather outright demagogy.”

“Nobody”, Putin continues, “has the right to usurp the prerogatives and powers of the UN, particularly the use of force with regard to sovereign nations. This concerns NATO, an organization that has been assuming an attitude that is inconsistent with a ‘defensive alliance’. These points are very serious. We recall how states that have fallen victim to ‘humanitarian’ operations and the export of ‘missile-and-bomb democracy’ appealed for respect for legal standards and common human decency.”

Putin also addresses other hot spots of world events: the events in northern Africa and the Middle East, the problem of proliferation, the situation in Afghanistan, the Asia-Pacific region, and the Russian-American relations.

Tackle the drug crime

As in previous years, he reminds of taking decisive action against any kind of drug-related crime when talking about Afghanistan: “The probable future of Afghanistan is alarming. We have supported the military operation on rendering international aid to that country. However, the NATO-led international military contingent has not met its objectives. The threats of terrorism and drug trafficking have not been reduced. […]

Russia has obvious interests in Afghanistan and these interests are understandable. Afghanistan is our close neighbour and we have a stake in its stable and peaceful development. Most important, we want it to stop being the main source of the drug threat. Illegal drug trafficking has become one of the most urgent threats. It undermines the genetic bank of entire nations, while creating fertile soil for corruption and crime and is leading to the destabilization of Afghanistan. Far from declining, the production of Afghan drugs increased by almost 40% last year. Russia is being subjected to vicious heroin-related aggression that is doing tremendous damage to the health of our people.

The dimensions of the Afghan drug threat make it clear that it can only be overcome by a global effort with reliance on the United Nations and regional organizations – the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the CIS. We are willing to consider much greater participation in the relief operation for the Afghan people but only on the condition that the international contingent in Afghanistan acts with greater zeal and in our interests, that it will pursue the physical destruction of drug crops and underground laboratories.

Invigorated anti-drug measures inside Afghanistan must be accompanied by the reliable blocking of the routes of opiate transportation to external markets, financial flows and the supply of chemical substances used in heroin production. The goal is to build a comprehensive system of anti-drug security in the region. Russia will contribute to the effective cooperation of the international community for turning the tide in the war against the global drug threat.”

If Europe remembers its own values, it can accept the dialogue offered by the new Russian president in all these aspects. The European peoples and states are interested in international law being respected, each state being treated equally and its rights being respected; it is also interested in the states and peoples cooperating in peace, in enhancing the general welfare and the dangers emanating from drugs being contained.     •

(Translation Current Concerns)