[The Daily Star, Lebanon]



Le Figaro, France

A Way Out of the Georgia Crisis for Russia and the West


"The general state of relations between Russia and the West is deteriorating by the hour. The enlargement of Europe can be carried out only with the consent of Russia; and only if Russia advances along a path as a partner with special status within the European Union."


By Alexandre Adler


Translated By Kate Davis


August 30, 2008


France - Le Figaro - Original Article (French)

The general state of relations between Russia and the West is deteriorating by the hour. While, contrary to the agreement signed by Nicolas Sarkozy and Dmitri Medvedev, Russian troops continue to occupy portions of Georgian territory - outside of Abkhazia and Ossetia, rumors of a possible confrontation between Russia and Ukraine are gathering apace.


Nicolas Sarkozy talks the E.U. out of doing anything rash, at the

E.U. summit on the Georgia crisis, Sept. 1.


Everyone is talking about "Cold War," but rather, it brings to mind a sort of war of secession that will end up being played out nearly 20 years after the implosion of the Soviet Empire. When the presidents of three Baltic States (Poland, Ukraine and Georgia) express their solidarity in confronting Moscow, the fear arises of triggering a fatal conflict between two relatively equal parts of the former Soviet Empire, rather than a deliberate attempt to cause harm on either side.


Yet it's in the nature of extreme situations to produce effects that are excessively negative or excessively positive, according to the artfulness and ability that politicians bring to them. In 1914, but in reality as early as 1912, the explosion of the Balkans and the Ottoman Empire led to global war [WWI], but 36 years earlier, the crisis of 1878 between Russia and Turkey which was no less serious, led to the Congress of Berlin and the triumph of the moderate ideas of Bismarck , the assurance of a continental peace that extended over several decades, the "Beautiful Era [Belle Epoque ].


Congress of Berlin, June 17-July 17, 1878. Peace reigned in Europe

for 35 years after the meeting - finally coming to an end with WWI.


Another life-saving Congress of Berlin is now possible and by a very strange combination of factors, it is France that can take the initiative. America, indeed, is at the moment paralyzed by its presidential election and the accumulation of errors it has committed vis--vis Russia since 2001. Germany, of all the countries in the E.U. the nearest in every respect to Russia, is embarrassed by the scheduled and inevitable decline of the grand coalition [NATO]. Thanks to Nicolas Sarkozy's new foreign policy, France has reassured Washington of his loyalty to its ally, most recently on Afghanistan.


At the same time and at the height of the crisis, Sarkozy has at no time abandoned either the Polish nor the Georgians at the European Council , and thus has built a reputation as a defender of freedom in Eastern Europe. At the same time because they see France as their essential interlocutor in Europe - both because Sarkozy had already proposed a compromise at his first meeting with Medvedev that was acceptable for the Russians; and because France is committing to increasingly its considerable projects with Russia - the Russians seem willing to talk to France about a settlement of a crisis that is being played out chiefly among Europeans.


Here begins the careful surgery: the French and the other Europeans in their train must indicate clearly to the Russians that they will not alter their opposition on the presence of Ukraine and Georgia in NATO at least in its current state. They must also make it known to Moscow that they will not pass a sanctions regime except as a last resort. But at the same time they must make clear to the Kremlin that the E.U. could quickly accept the principle of the candidacy of Ukraine or Georgia to the European Union.


But for reasons that are principled and not tactical, the enlargement of Europe can be carried out only with the consent of Russia; and only if Russia advances along a path as a partner with special status within the European Union, which would be at least on par with that of Ukraine. If Russia agrees to enter into such a mechanism of negotiations, Russians and Western Europeans could then build a continent-wide dialogue that would change the face of the world.


The first act of this great reversal would be the creation of a veritable energetic community, where Europe would be assured of a smooth supply of oil and gas, and where Russia would in turn obtain the financing and markets for its true expansion. Regarding the final status of Abkhazia and Ossetia, this should be frozen until the convening of a peace conference in Transcaucasia, which should also solve the Karabakh problem between Azerbaijan and Armenia, with the presence of the Americans and the indispensable Turks. If France begins to unblock this path, it could then more easily develop, along with Germany, a sort of European board of directors, the importance of which has now has become very clear.


Yet another simmering crisis in the Caucuses:

Armenia vs. Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.


If Russia, which has already been repudiated for its use of excessive force by China and Central Asia, understands that it can emerge from this great crisis, she will win a major victory for those who wish to encircle and gag it, but also for itself.






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