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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, right, welcomes Iranian President

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in Russia to attend the summit of the Shanghai

Cooperation Organization - a grouping formed by China and Russia as a

counterpoint to NATO. Medvedev was in a tricky position welcoming a

president whose election victory last week has been marred by protests

and the greatest political crisis in the history of the Islamic Republic.

 

 

Gazeta, Russia

The Kremlin Balanced 'Between Two Chairs': Iran's and the West's

 

"It is this very acrobatic feat which, evidently, embodies the essence and uniqueness of Russian foreign policy. ... The West, most notably the U.S., is now keen for Russian not to reject its more dubious partners like Iran. On the contrary, thanks to these special connections, it could become the mediator for a dialogue with them."

 

Translated By Yekaterina Blinova

 

EDITORIAL

 

June 16, 2009

 

Russia - Gazeta - Original Article (Russian)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Escaping the turmoil in his own country, Ahmadinejad lashed out at the West in general and the U.S. in particular, saying that the 'age of empire' is over.

 

BBC NEWS VIDEO: Ahmadinejad attends Shanghai Cooperation Organization and lashes out at the U.S. and the West, June 16, 00:01:17RealVideo

As hard as it would be for someone to sit in two chairs simultaneously, Russia has traditionally aspired to put itself in an even more uncomfortable and difficult position - in between the chairs. It is this very acrobatic feat which, evidently, embodies the essence and uniqueness of Russian foreign policy.

 

The widely advertized meeting between Medvedev and Iranian President Ahmadinejad during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Yekaterinburg was publicly cancelled because the guest was late by a day, and then finally conducted anyway.

 

But, as was emphasized by the Kremlin press service, "'within the confines' of the summit." And although the parties agreed to continue economic and humanitarian cooperation, the Kremlin made it clear that there were no heart to heart conversations, only routine handshakes under the watchful eye of the cameras.

 

What did the Russian side have to say, with all of the informational fuss surrounding the meeting between the two presidents? Since unlike our elections, those in Iran were conducted "sloppily," and hence failed to avert the protests of the opposition and even a recount, Russia had to show a coolness to the newly-elected Ahmadinejad - and thus show Western countries that we, like they, are concerned about the situation in Iran and in general - that even that we're for democracy and a nuclear-free world.

 

But since that meeting, however formal, did take place, would this in turn lead Iran to understand that we're still partners? The Foreign Ministry sent positive signals toward the east: Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said that, "the question of the Iranian elections is an internal affair of the Iranian people, and we welcome the fact that the elections took place, and we welcome the newly elected president of Iran to Russian soil." At the same time, Medvedev, a member of G8, sent signals to the West by refusing to hold a fully-fledged meeting with the questionable Iranian leader Although, it's not at all a fact that these complex cross-signals, this acrobatic diplomacy by the Kremlin, has been correctly understood by the recipient parties.

Posted by WORLDMEETS.US

 

'Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Packs Up His Troubles'

[Guardian Unlimited,U.K.]

 

The West, most notably the United States, is now rather keen for Russian not to reject its more dubious friends and partners. On the contrary, thanks to these special connections, it could become the mediator for a dialogue with them. In any case, Obama, whose ambitious plan is the reformation of relations with many of the traditional and perennial enemies of the United States, particularly with Iran, is clearly interested in expanding the number of channels for exchanging views and information.

 

But Russia has already missed a chance to become an intermediary between the West and North Korea, with a leadership that Putin seemed to begin building a special relationship during the beginning of his presidency. But since the interest of Russia in its poor North Korean friends faded rather quickly, China took over the role of leader in the dialogue with the followers of "Juche ideal."

 

Western countries will obviously need Russian assistance - even in the matter of taming the "last dictator of Europe" - Alexander "Batko" Lukashenko of Belarus. Bat'ko [father], whose relationship with his Russian counterparts gets worse by the day, has now actively turned to his Western neighbors. "We will ensure the reliability of your investments, consider all your suggestions. I am sure that in Belarus, you will find a good partner" - said the president of Belarus on Tuesday, receiving Bernd Pfaffenbach, Germany's secretary of state in the Ministry of Economics and Technology. To which the German dignitary remarked that even in more difficult times, Germany understood, "its role as a bridge between Belarus and the European Union."

 

Being a "bridge" is clearly not an element from the Russian acrobatic repertoire. Russia has been unable to use any of its special friendships and connections to acquire the status of a country capable of resolving difficult global situations and unraveling the tangled knot of international relations. Russia gained nothing from its contacts with Saddam Hussein, the Kremlin's flirtations with Kim Jong-il, or the visit to the Russian capitol of its comrades from Hamas.

Posted by WORLDMEETS.US

 

It is doubtful whether Russia will be able to provide effective and active mediation between the West and Iran.

 

 

The game of "neither for you nor for us" is seldom successful and requires exceptional virtuosity, far more than that demanded by the informational games surrounding the not very history-making meeting of the two presidents.

 

In order to balance between two chairs, one needs not only dexterity, but support that is more powerful than routine chants about the new architecture of global relations.

 

Today there is no shortage of those who seek to become the architects of tomorrow. And as cool as the welcome he received by Russia's architects of the new world order, Ahmadinejad used the platform of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to pronounce the end of the old order: "The age of empires has ended and the international capitalist order is retreating. We are convinced that the current problems stem from philosophical reasons and that the existing political and economic structures are moving toward the end of their reign over the world. It is apparent that the age of empire has ended and it will see no revival."

 

Searching for a place between the two chairs is becoming more and more difficult

 

 

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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US June 18, 1:58am]