Tag Archives: Nabucco pipeline

US NEW POLICY TOWARDS EASTERN EUROPE

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JOE BIDEN AND US NEW POLICY TOWARDS EASTERN EUROPE by Anton Caragea PhD, MA, FINS

 Joe_Biden and new US policy on Eastern Europe

On 17 of July at European Council on International Relations was published a letter signed by 22 former presidents, intellectual and policy makers from Central and Eastern Europe announcing their mistrust in the new rapprochement policy with Russia . Regarding the abandon of the missile shield in Poland and Czech Republic the letter pointed out: “Abandoning the program entirely or involving Russia too deeply in it without consulting Poland or the Czech Republic can undermine the credibility of the United States across the whole region”.  Now Joseph Biden has toured the region proclaiming the US new vision for Eastern Europe.

 

End of confrontational vision.

First announcement made in the visits in Ukraine and Georgia between 20 and 24 July was the end of the confrontational vision at Black Sea that G. Bush has supported. Even the visit in those two countries was left to Joe Biden, vice-president while Barack Obama has selected Moscow as the main step on his diplomatic journey. This was a gesture never made by previous administration which only visits Moscow after visiting Romania, Poland or Baltic states in order to send an unambiguous signal that relations with Russia are determined by Russia policy in Eastern Europe. No such signal come from Obama administration, sending the vice-president was itself a sign of downgrading relations with the region.  Joe Biden also announced the policymakers in Tbilisi and Kiev that now is the time to have better relations with Russia and pressured US allies like Georgia’s Saakashvili to open society and to embrace democracy reform, which was seen as a favorable moved toward pro-Russian opposition which is regularly   accusing President Saakashvili of dictatorial ambition. Also in Kiev Biden didn’t missed the opportunity to meet Victor Janucovici the Kremlin backed main contender for president Victor Yushcenko for presidential bid in 2010 Ukrainian elections. A striking difference form previously US unwavering support to orange revolution leaders in Ukraine and Georgia.

Bush and Yushchenko at the time of orange revolution

Yushcenko a leader of orange revolution now abandoned ?

End of the missile shield.

Now between 20 and 23 of October vice-president Biden was in a new diplomatic journey to Eastern Europe visiting Poland, Romania and Czech Republic in order to officially announce the US redraw from the Missile Shield Plan. Announced in 2007 by Bush administration, the Missile shield was seen by many as a continuation of Reagan Star Wars, that help bring down Soviet Union economy and communism system. This time the shield, publicly oriented against Iran, was universally regarded as a pressure against Putin`s Russia. All the leaders of the region have seen this sign of US commitment to the Eastern Europe in the face of a new assertive Russian power. The Obama administration decision to build a small shield, really dedicated counter Iran ballistic system, on Black Sea in Turkey and Israel and maybe Azerbaijan, was looked as a further signed of US disengagement in the region. Joe Biden visit was projected with the purpose of calming eastern European fears and to build a new relation between US and Eastern Europe.

A new U.S. strategic vision.

Joe Biden explained in Warsaw, Bucharest and Prague  that: US is not seeing Russia as an enemy and the Cold War perception  of Moscow as a foe that must be isolated under an Iron Curtain is over . The result of this assertion was that US will not tolerate and support rebellious actions as Georgian-Russian war in summer of 2008 or Ukraine pressure on Russian navy or Romanian plans to counter Russian influence at Black sea and Polish pressure in Belarus. All this actions of harassment backed by previous US administration must end.        

Also US is ready to sponsor a detente in the Eastern Europe- Russia relations based on economic and cultural relations and on a new vision of a common economic space between Russia and Europe. This vision of peaceful cooperation is not shared in the region , the 22 former leaders wanted a tougher stance on Kremlin: “When it comes to Russia, our experience has been that a more determined and principled policy toward Moscow will not only strengthen the West’s security but will ultimately lead Moscow to follow a more cooperative policy as well”. The US response is a startling: No! to this vision.

Do you remeber the time when Saakashvili meets GBush

Saakashvili sacrified on the altar of a new US-Russia relationship ?

A space of economic cooperation.     

Instead of political confrontation from Baltic to Black Sea Joe Biden is wanting to see economic cooperation and more precisely: energy cooperation. In Poland he was spoken about energy routes in the Baltic linking Russia and Europe closer, in Romania was speaking about Trieste- Constanta gas pipeline and a liquid gas terminal at Constanta, based on Qatari gas transported to Romania and from here to Western Europe.  Also Biden expressed support not for EU backed Nabucco pipeline, destined to override Russia as a gas supplier to Europe but to South Line, a Russian sponsored gas pipeline.  To measure what a disappointment this speech  will be for Eastern Europe leaders I quote one more time from there letter: „Central and Eastern European countries should lobby harder … for diversification of the energy mix, suppliers, and transit routes, as well as for tough legal scrutiny of Russia’s abuse of its monopoly and cartel-like power inside the EU. But American political support on this will play a crucial role. Similarly, the United States can play an important role in solidifying further its support for the Nabucco pipeline”.

Finaly Joe Biden signaled in all the capitals his wish for a new generation of leaders in Eastern Europe capable to understand the necessity of a new policy towards Russia, in Bucharest, he was paying a lot of attention to opposition leaders in order to signal the US disinterest in the fate of Romanian president Traian Basescu, a former darling of Bush administration, and the play was repeated over and over in Warsaw and Prague.

Lessons of Joe Biden visits.

First it is interest to point out that Biden avoid going to Baltic States , shattered by economic crisis , isolated in EU and pressured by Russia, a sign that Baltic States must first  end there anti-Russian stance and normalize relations with Kremlin.  Also Biden didn’t visit Bulgaria that already switch to a more conciliatory stance with Russia accepting Russian pipelines on his territory, supporting Russia in Kosovo, Serbia and Balkans relation and opened for strategic business partnership with Russia. Also Hungary that signed 10 billion agreement on gas, energy and oil with Russia accepting to become Russia`s main energy partner in the region was avoided. For Bulgaria and Hungary the new Washington vision was already in place; make business not war was the tune form White House. This was a visit to last remaining pro-Bush strongholds: Poland, Romania and Czech Republic destined to signal that US is redrawing support for confrontational vision. Cohabitation with Russia is a must for the new leaders of the region.    

Professor Anton Caragea PhD ,MA, FINS

CAUCASUS THE POWDER BARELL OF EUROPE?

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CAUCASUS THE POWDER BARELL OF EUROPE?

800px-Caucasus_breakaway_regions_2008_svg

Caucasus: the place for the next war ?

 

In the XIX century it was usual to say about the Balkan Peninsula that here is the powder barrel of Europe where all the wars are starting. In XX century the Russian and German ambitions where making the Eastern Europe the powder barrel of Europe. The XXI century seems to have (besides Middle East) his own soft spot: the Caucasus region. Here an explosive mixture of dictatorship, military ambitions, Islamic fundamentalism and rich natural resources is threatening the Europe stability.

Georgia`s open wounds.

Off course the first thing that is crossing our minds in relation with Caucasus region is the Russian-Georgian war of 2008. The war left the region in tatters : Georgia has seen disappearing all his chances to join NATO or European Union in the forcible future, the Georgian army was crushed by a rudimentary Russian forced proving that Georgia is far from a position of strength in the region. Not at least Georgia has seen amputation of his territory by the independence proclamation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Both newly appeared countries are supported militarily and economically by Russia which is making any transgression against these two countries a casus belli. If Georgia does not relinquish his claims to this two regions will never be accepted to NATO and European Union, both organization requiring a prior settlement of frontiers as a part of any pre-joining negotiation. Now an isolated Georgia, a war ravage country confronted with street demonstration and an unpopular president with authoritarian tendencies is ready to embark at least in a war of words with Russia. In august 2009 a war of tension brooked out one more time between Russia and Georgia both trying to win a PR confrontation this time, war is a continuation of politics by other means used to say Clausewitz and Russian and Georgia are ready to continue their confrontation.

Tskhinval_after_Georgian_attack4

 Frozen conflicts.

The Georgian-Russian war is not the only conflict that is casting a shadow over the region prospects on a normal development.   The north of Caucasus seemed to be one more time engulf in the flames of radical Islam. In 1999 then Prime-Minister Putin has build his career on crushing the Chechen rebellion. Now ten year after the story is again on the front page of newspapers; Chechnya is burning.  In Ingushetia, a neighboring republic of Chechnya has seen in the last months his president badly wounded and two ministers assassinated and a radical increase in terrorist activity. In the old wound of Chechnya the Kremlin prodigy Ramzan Kadyrov is confronted with an Islamic revival, a chain of assassination and attacks plague the country and make even the Prime minister reloaded Vladimir Putin visiting the region in a desperate effort to prevent a new war in Chechnya that could be fatal to his political stature. Let`s not forget that Chechnya war has destroyed Boris Eltin popularity and toppled two Russians prime ministers.

The conflict has spelt into Dagestan and North Ossetia menacing the pro-Russian leaders and the stability of a difficult region. A new war in Caucasus in a crumbling economy with a Russian unreformed army could spell disaster for Russian renewed imperial ambitious.

Azerbaijan on the frontline.

Azerbaijan is not enjoying a comfortable position on power struggle on Caucasus. With a large part of the population of Shia confession (the same as Iran) the Azerbaijan is observing with increasing worry the rise in isolation of Iran. If a war is to broke up in the region Azerbaijan is crucial: first his air space must be used for aerial attacks on targets on Iran, the country radar system must be used to control Iran air space and any missile interception system to prevent attacks on Europe and Israel must be position here. Already the Israel president Shimon Peres made a landmark visit to Azerbaijan (June 2009), described by Israel Minister of Foreign Affairs as:  „to reaffirms the strategic relationship between the two countries”.

Azerbaijan is sharing a long border with Iran, an important Shia population and a common history and is having important internal issues that make the country fragile, economic crisis seriously crippled the economy; corruption is endemic and democracy inexistent. In this difficult portrait the Iran threat made public by Iranian Chief of Staff , Hasan Firudabadi, that said that is regarding Azerbaijan movement as inimical and the Iran ambassador in Baku was recalled for consultation .An attack on Iran could be fatal for Azerbaijan in the present diplomatically  and economical construction.

Caucasus: oil and gas battle.

As if the geopolitical confrontation in the region is not enough the resources battle is at an age here. The oil and gas resources of Caspic Sea are poring from this region either to Russia, or to Europe, also the reach wealth of Iran in gas and oil could be exported to Europe only by this region. Russia is trying to secure his control on energy route on Caucasus by building South Stream pipeline, by dismantling independent pipeline and exploit the military victory over Georgia as an incentive to control the region resources. European Union is trying to find alternative routes and reserves of gases, independent of Russian influence by building Nabucco bypassing Russia as main supplier. But the Nabucco pipeline must go by Caucasus region and the gas and oil reserves  are also in the region so economic date are making the future of the region even more cloudy then it seems.

Caucasus is looking like a fragile region, with authoritarian regimes, economic corruption and under an ongoing battle for influence and power between Russia, United States, European Union, Israel and Iran. Will be Caucasus the new powder barrel of Europe?    

Professor Anton Caragea PhD, MA, FINS