When Russia tests ‘European unity’

Marian Miszalski

The international reaction to the Russian attack against Georgia is a political lesson that is worth drawing conclusions from. First of all, we can see an extremely ambiguous Germany’s stand towards this act of Russian aggression against a sovereign state. It was only after the political action of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Ukraine to defend Georgia that German Chancellor Merkel uttered the words of cautious disapproval. After the American initiative by calling for a meeting of the NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the German Chancellor made a radical change and opted for inviting Georgia into NATO in the future (several months ago she strongly opposed such an idea…). French President Nicolas Sarkozy took a similar stand: at first he recognised Russia’s right to ‘defend its citizens’ (a scandalous, compromising ‘slip-up’!), then he presented ‘a peace plan’, leaving Russia the option to occupy and plunder Georgia. The Georgian lesson fully confirms the fear that the strategic German-Russian partnership became a more important political axis than the joint policy of the EU countries, and France under Sarkozy’s presidency adapts only to the German-Russian axis. Therefore, the initiative of President Lech Kaczynski to incline five sovereign European countries to express their strong protest against Russia’s aggression was good. Consequently, the Georgian issue and the camouflaged attempts to dominate Europe by the German-Russian tandem cannot be longer ‘swept under the carpet’; the alternative is clear: either ‘strategic partnership Berlin-Moscow – other European countries have the right to seek their own security means – or ‘the European Union’, and then the German-Russian relationships must be subordinated to the community of all EU members.
A lot depends on the American stand. If the American politics turns its back on Georgia or is content with passive declarations it might face the danger of losing the confidence of America’s allies, which seems to have been the Russia’s goal for long. The sudden and unexpected change of the German Chancellor concerning Georgia’s membership in NATO seems to confirm that the Americans exerted a strong pressure on Germany… Is it only a tactical concession of Berlin or is it an announcement of a more stable change in the German politics? We will see although it is hard to be optimistic. However, the fact is that the Georgian issue has mainly tested the cohesion of NATO and the reliability of the American politics towards its smaller allies. The good thing was to sign the Polish-American agreement concerning the missile defence shield. But one cannot omit the fact that the completion of the agreement was sped up when the former Polish negotiator Witold Waszczykowski made public the inside story of the negotiations, which were controlled by Tusk’s party politics (so characteristic of the Citizen’s Platform). Yet, ‘the international press’ was full of voices of the Russian sphere of influence. It was especially visible in the German press that eagerly accused Poland of introducing divisions in NATO, and in some French papers. ‘If the cap fits, wear it’… It came true surprisingly quickly. This is also a lesson not to treat that ‘international press’ as an oracle and mentor but to treat it as it deserves: as a propaganda of foreign interests and goals. In Georgia people called the EU stand concerning the Russia’s aggression, including ‘Sarkozy’s plan’, a ‘second Munich’. The meaningful fact is that in recent years this description of the EU policy towards Russia and Germany has appeared for the second time; the term was used in the Czech Republic some time before when Brussels did not have enough courage to voice a firm protest against the German property restitution claims towards the Czech Republic…Until today Brussels has not taken its stand concerning these claims towards Poland… Who is actually destroying ‘the European unity’ then?... The initiative of President Lech Kaczynski, supported by Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Ukraine, concerns this aspect, although indirectly.

"Niedziela" 35/2008

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl