By Elisabeth Hellenbroich

On the  9th of November all over Germany celebrations took place commemorating the  30 years anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall ( 9th November 1989). At the same day people in Germany and Europe commemorated the horrendous pogrom night (9th November 1938) which the Nazis had organized against the Jews. Many TV debates, seminars and conferences are taking place discussing the “unique” historical chance that occurred on November 9th 1989 when the Berlin wall fell, which paved the way for German reunification. Most people experienced this event as one of the most joyous moments in post-war history. This strategic change would not have been possible without the essential help from the US, but also from the Soviet Union under the then State President Mikhail Gorbachev.

Yet there are voices raised in these days, such as the one by US foreign State Secretary Mike Pompeo (from November 7th till November 9th he visited Germany), who in a press conference with Chancellor Merkel did not mention with one word the contribution made by the Soviet Union. He underlined that Germany must protect the freedom which the country triumphantly won 1989 and formulated two tasks: “We don’t want that Germany’s energy security depends from Russia,” Pompeo said. In an indirect reference to the German- Russia Nord Stream II Pipeline whose construction is about to be completed end of this year, he essentially threatened that German government should carefully think about its cooperation with Russia (the US Senate wants to kill the project and implement in the last minute with sanctions as well as a freeze of the accounts of those firms which are involved in the construction of underwater tubes). He also explicitly attacked potential German cooperation with the Chinese Telecommunication firm Huawei which is qualified by the US government as “a threat to national Security.”

President Steinmeier’s letter to Mikhail Gorbachev

At the eve of the celebrations an important signal was given by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier who unlike a huge majority in the Christian Democratic Party, on Nov 5th sent a letter to  Mikhail Gorbachev, the former General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party, in which he expressed his  deep gratitude for what the Soviet Union has done in order to have occur German Reunification peacefully. “We have never forgotten and will not forget that the miracle of the peaceful unification of many countries and the end of the division of Europe would not have been possible without the courageous and human decisions that were taken by you personally,” Steinmeier wrote. He emphasized that he was “fully aware that in retrospect not all hopes of those days were fulfilled. What makes me suffer most is the state of the German- Russian and European –Russian relations. It is our duty and task not to accept the alienation which took place during the last years and not lose the perspective for a common future in peace and cooperation. In these days I want to tell you in particular honestly: Germany will forever be grateful to you and allied in deep gratitude.”

In a personal greeting written by Gorbachev for the upcoming celebrations in Germany, Gorbachev had emphasized that he remembered well the slogan used by the Germans in East and West who claimed that “we are one people.”  The day of the fall of the wall was probably the most joyous day in German history, he stated.  “In such moments of history the wisdom and responsibility of nations and state leaders is put to a test. We can say that we successfully passed this test.  The Germans expressed their hopes and demands peacefully and the Russian people assisted them with empathy. Two peoples have closed that tragic chapter of the past. These people – Germans and Russians – are the true heroes of the reunification. Today we must ensure that Europe acts along those hopes and expectations. People then hoped for a new beginning and an epoch of peace, cooperation and reconstruction, they hoped that Europe would become our common house “- Yet he also warned that “no reliable common security architecture was created, no system to avoid conflicts, which our continent so urgently needs.” (In a BBC interview November 4rth, he had warned of the “colossal danger” arising from the nuclear weapons in Europe and the present arms race.) Gorbachev urged that “we should fight for a Europe without divisionary lines and walls, a new Europe which our fathers can be proud of.”

Foreign Minister Sergej Lavrov on the need for a new global Foreign policy

“World at a Crossroad and a system of international relations for the future” is the title of an essay that was published in the October edition of the Russian Magazine “Russia in Global Affairs.” In his essay the Foreign Minister refers to the 75th anniversary of the Victory of the Great Patriotic and Second World War and of the Establishment of the UN (1945), which will be celebrated next year (2020). As the essay emphasized,  it was both the defeat of fascism and the founding of the UN Charter, which became the “key source of international law up to this day.” He qualified the UN as a “safety net that ensures peaceful development of mankind amid largely natural divergence of interests and rivalries among leading powers.”

Looking back at the events which occurred 30 years ago, he noted, that at that time the Soviet Union “disintegrated and the Berlin Wall which had symbolically separated the two ‘camps’ fell and that the irreconcilable ideological stand- off that had defined the framework of world politics in virtually all spheres and regions became a thing of the past. Yet these tectonic shifts unfortunately failed to bring the triumph of a unifying agenda. Instead all we could hear were triumphant pronouncements that the ‘end of history’ had come and that from now on there would be only one global decision making center.”

According to the Foreign Minister “the efforts to create a unipolar model have failed” and “the overwhelming majority of members of the international community reject arrogant neocolonial policies that are employed all over again to empower certain countries to impose their will on others.” He particularly analyzed the “fake” use of diplomatic language and rhetoric used by many political representatives of the Western elites: For example the use of terms such as “liberalism, democracy and human rights,” terms, which often “go hand in hand with the policies of inequality, injustice, selfishness and a belief in their own exceptionalism.” He pointed to “the policy of sanctions and military threats against countries such as Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea and Syria. True liberalism, according to Lavrov, has “always been an important component of political philosophy both in Russia and worldwide.”

Similarly he observed that the West which after centuries of economic political and military domination  is losing the prerogative of being the only one to shape the global agenda,  has given rise to the concept which is called “rules based order.” The other frequently used term is “responsibility to protect,” which in reality according to Lavrov is often justifying violent “humanitarian interventions.”  He stated that it is for a reason that the West is openly discussing a new divide between the “rules based liberal order” and “authoritarian powers.” He underlined that the US by dismantling the ABM and INF treaty had generated the risk of “dismantling the entire architecture of nuclear arms control agreements.” Following Lavrov’s line of argumentation,  the present global developments make clear that the emergence of a “polycentric world architecture must be seen as an irreversible process, no matter how hard anyone tries to artificially hold it back.” He suggested that “all parties should strictly comply with the principles enshrined in the UN Charter, starting with the respect for the sovereign equality of states regardless of their size, system of government or development model. Aside urging a reform of the UN Security Council taking into account the interest of the Asian, African and Latin American Nations, he underlined, that “we should use to the fullest the potential of the G20 as an ambitious, an all- encompassing global governance body that represents the interests of all key players and takes unanimous decisions.”  Other associations are playing a growing role as well alliances projecting the spirit of a true and democratic multi-polarity, based on voluntary participation consensus, values of equality and sound pragmatism, and refraining from confrontation and bloc approaches. These include BRICS and the SCO, which Russia will chair in 2020.  He state that Russia’s unconditional priority is to “continue providing assistance to the unhindered formation of the Greater Eurasian Partnership, a broad integration framework stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific that involves the member states of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) , the Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN) and all other countries of the Eurasian continent, including the EU countries.”

Bellicose study presented by the US think tank “Heritage Foundation” 

The Russian Foreign Minister’s speech should be seen in stark contrast to the sharp rhetoric used by the ultra- conservative US Think Tank “Heritage Foundation” which on October 30th published a study: “Assessing threats to U.S. vital interests.” The only focus of the study is Russia, which is qualified as the main aggressor in the world. According to the Heritage Foundation Russia is an “acute and formidable threat to both the United States and to the U.S. interest in Europe, from the Artic to the Baltics, Ukraine, and the South Caucasus, and increasingly in the Mediterranean. Russia continues to foment instability in Europe. Despite economic problems, Russia continues to prioritize the rebuilding of its military and funding for its military operations abroad.”  The study underlines that “Russia’s military and political antagonism toward the United States continues unabated and the efforts to undermine U.S institutions and the NATO alliance are serious and troubling. Russia uses its energy position in Europe along with espionage, cyberattacks, and information warfare to exploit vulnerabilities and seeks to drive wedges into the transatlantic alliance and undermine people’s faith in government and societal institutions.”

The report stresses that “overall, Russia has significant conventional and nuclear capabilities and remains the principal threat to European security (sic). Its aggressive stance in a number of theatres, including the Balkans, Georgia, Syria and Ukraine, continues both to encourage destabilization and to threaten U.S. interests.” The entire study essentially consists of a list that analyses the conflicts and confrontations which occurred in the last years. This bears in particular on Russian engagement in Syria, Russian assistance for Venezuela, which according to the study has been carried out like operations in Syria by “mercenary troops” based on private volunteer troops “trained at Special Forces bases and often under command of Russian Special Forces.” The study despite underlining that the  Russian economy will grow only by  1,4% in 2019; and that incomes have significantly declined,  concludes that “economic problems at home also can incentivize regimes to pursue military adventures abroad to distract the public and create  positive news for the government.”  They conclude  that Russia still maintains the world’s largest nuclear arsenal and “although a strike on the US is highly unlikely, the latent potential for such a strike still gives these weapons enough strategic value vis- a- vis America’s NATO allies and interests in Europe to keep them relevant.”


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