Principlöst om Ryssland2008-11-09
EU:s höga svansföring gentemot Ryssland slokar. Enad fasad och mjuk makt är viktigare än principer.
Efter kriget i Georgien i augusti kom EU överens om att skjuta upp förhandlingar om ett nytt partnerskapsavtal med Ryssland.
Ett villkor för att återuppta förhandlingarna sades då vara att Ryssland skulle dra tillbaka sina trupper till där de befann sig före konflikten.
Det har Ryssland inte gjort.
Ändå ska förhandlingarna tydligen återupptas.
Det väntas utrikesministrarna besluta i morgon måndag när de träffas inför EU:s toppmöte med Ryssland på fredag den 14 november.
I relation med omvärlden är principer tydligen inte lika viktigt som att försöka visa upp en enad fasad och därmed försöka utöva unionens mjuka makt.
Läs den intressanta texten om detta i veckans The Economist:
" THE European Union is finding itself in unfamiliar territory with Russia. Its trouble stems, unusually, from having been too clear and overly united in its demands towards its eastern neighbour. This dates from just after the August war in Georgia, when the Europeans were desperate to press Russia to remove its tanks and men from the country. The leaders of all 27 EU countries met at an emergency summit on September 1st, and—breaking with their normal habits of mudge and fudge—issued an admirably limpid demand, backed by a crystal-clear condition.
The leaders issued the following declaration, in writing: until all troops withdrew to positions they held prior to August 7th, the day before the war began, the EU would suspend any negotiations on a new partnership and co-operation agreement (PCA) with Russia. It was hardly a savage threat: such pacts are bureaucratic rather than historic, offering a single legal framework for matters that range from border disputes to squabbles over salami imports. Moreover, Russia cares about a new PCA less than the EU does. Two-thirds of its exports to Europe involve gas, oil and minerals, which bring in cash even without strong rules.
But Europe’s threat was clear. And that, two months later, has led to a painful moment. Most EU governments now want to resume talks on a new PCA with Russia—foreign ministers are expected to agree this at a meeting on November 10th, just in time to cast a cheering glow over an EU-Russia summit in Nice four days later. But Russia has not pulled all its troops back to pre-conflict positions. For all the “angels on the head of a pin” obfuscation offered by Russian envoys, Europe’s demand has clearly not been met, as one EU diplomat concedes. At a minimum, there are Russian (and Russian-backed) forces in such places as Akhalgori and the Kodori gorge that Georgia controlled before the war.
If you believe the hype that the EU works differently from grubby nation-states, this ought to matter. The EU, its supporters sometimes claim, offers a model of how 21st-century diplomacy should be conducted. It is a multipolar alliance in which relations between big and small countries are defined by binding rules. The union itself is a happy hybrid: a political sort-of-government and an almost-judicial regulator, built on a bedrock of almost 100,000 pages of legislation. Europe, they say, may not do the “hard power” of military force, but it wields lots of “soft power”. Its order, wealth and stability attract its closest neighbours (who all want to join one day) and can even weave such mighty powers as Russia and China into a web of legal agreements.
Here and now, however, the EU is faced with a less high-falutin’ problem. Its highest political body—a summit of 27 heads of state and government—set a condition for Russia that has not been met. Do they now pretend that it has been? Individual countries are capable of such realpolitik. But that would be “disastrous” for the EU, says one foreign minister (whose country is bracing itself, glumly, to endorse a resumption of talks on a new PCA with Russia). Europe’s relations with Russia must be as rules-based as possible, he says. “When we see them violating rules, we should be very clear in our language.”
Yet even that modest demand is not a done deal. On November 10th some countries, such as Britain and Sweden, would like to use language acknowledging the gravity of the moment: perhaps a statement that the EU’s relations with Russia were marked durably by the conflict with Georgia. But others, including Germany, France and Italy, see no reason to “dramatise the restart of negotiations” at all, says a diplomat.
All manner of excuses are now in circulation as to why talks on the PCA should be resumed. Postponing a new agreement would mostly hurt Europe, goes the most common argument. But postponing talks was the condition that Europe chose to set, after much behind-the-scenes muddle. (Early drafts of September’s summit conclusions were soft, it is said, because everybody expected Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, a cheerleader for unconditional friendship with Russia, to block anything tough.) After some swift haggling, leaders finally fixed on postponing the PCA talks. And in a sense, what they chose is beside the point: the EU leaders could merely have threatened to leave the Kremlin off their Christmas-card lists, say. The real test lies in what follows from Russian non-compliance.
Some officials urge their critics to focus on Europe’s broader success in ending the conflict in Georgia. Using “soft power” alone, they say, EU mediators, led by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, stopped Russian troops from rolling into the Georgian capital and toppling the government of Mikheil Saakashvili. Nobody else could have done more, it is argued. But it is not clear that the EU stopped the Russians; and the reason Europe did not try to do any more is mainly that EU unity would not have held.
Unity in jelly
At the least, such arguments reveal something important: that the hype about the EU’s soft diplomacy is not believed by those who practise it. One diplomat involved in the Russia dispute draws a distinction between life inside and outside the union. Within the EU, relations are shaped by the rule of law, with judges ready to enforce strong principles of human rights or competition policy. Outside, he says, Europeans “live in a Hobbesian world”, where the “balance of power” dominates.
Europe’s main strength in foreign policy is not its commitment to a rules-based multilateralism, adds another official. Europe’s strength is its unity—hence the need to come up with a quick decision to resume the talks with Russia, to “keep the sheep in the pen”, and stop individual countries “going off on their own”. In short, the EU’s unity over Russia in September was quite unsustainable. And in the interests of preserving long-term unity (Europe’s strength), the EU will now back down, in unison. At least, the world will then look more familiar.
Back to top ^^