Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Referendum in Crimea: Europe shows double standards, precedent in Kosovo shows this best - scholars

More than 11,000 children have been killed during a civil war in Syria, a war unleashed with the full connivance of the West. The country is in chaos. Its economy and infrastructure have been ruined. A terrible humanitarian disaster in Syria is worth every bit of the Western public’s attention. Instead, it's been looking in a different direction.
All the opinion polls of the past couple of weeks, all the statements by politicians of all stripes have been focused on nothing else but Russia in a frenzied urge to portray the Kremlin as an "aggressor" seeking to choke independent Ukraine. Western journalists have been surprisingly refusing to draw any parallels between Crimea and Kosovo. Yet, one of the unfailing laws of history is that it always puts things back in their proper places.

On Sunday, people in the seven provinces of Veneto, Italy, an administrative region that includes Venice, Verona and Padua, will go to polls in a referendum on secession from Rome with opinion polls indicating that 65 percent of the region's population support independence. Amid wild attacks on Russia in Western media, more and more Europeans are beginning to feel entrapped by the hypocrisy of their politicians. The latest opinion polls reveal that ordinary Europeans have their own attitudes towards Russia, which are strikingly different from the myths spread by the anti-Russian propaganda. An online poll held by the Berlin-based Der Tagesspiegel newspaper on its website drew 12,000 respondents, the overwhelming majority of whom (80 percent) deem the West's criticism of Russia as double standards. Just 4 percent of the respondents would back Western military intervention in Ukraine and few others (4 percent) would like Russia to be expelled from the G8. Significantly, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, aware of the fact that most Germans, including business circles, are disapproving of confrontation with Russia, opposed economic sanctions against Moscow.

However, the ultimate goal of the Ukrainian endeavor being to gain control of the Black Sea coast and kick Russia out of Crimea by forcing the peninsula to remain part Ukraine, it would be wrong to expect the West to heed the voice of reason, said Boris Shmelyov, Director of the Center for Foreign Policy Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

"The Ukrainian crisis has shown that the West sees Russia as its geopolitical enemy with whom a policy of deterrence is needed. Europe does not need a strong and confident Russia. The West fully realizes that a Russian-Ukrainian economic or defense alliance would considerably strengthen Russia's positions, burying all of the West’s plans and all of its policy of the past years. The old idea formulated at the Austrian-Hungarian command headquarters in the late 19th century, namely that Russia without Ukraine is a second-rate country, weighs hard on the minds of Western politicians, which explains why they are so keen to prevent a closer political, military or economic rapprochement between Russia and Ukraine," he told the Voice of Russia.

  • The West has moved every means at its disposal, above all, its powerful mass media, into battle. Russia risks losing the information war as it has fewer media resources.

"It's hard to combat double standards under those circumstances, whereas appeals to international law have little effect. Control over mass media is crucial in the modern world. He who controls information controls public opinion and, consequently, the situation in society, in a country, on a continent and, finally, worldwide. Russia is losing that information war because its media resources are incomparably smaller than those of the West," Shmelyov said.

The signs are, however, that the current developments in Ukraine following the seizure of power by ultranationalist forces, the rampaging lawlessness and banditry don’t suit the European Union. That’s not what Brussels had expected, said Alexei Kuznetsov, head of the Center for European Studies of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations.

"The initial plan was to expand consumer markets for European goods through signing an association agreement with Ukraine. Yet, at the last moment, Yanukovych refused to sign it, heeding Russia's arguments, so the EU decided to do get rid of Yanukovych. It all went wrong, however. The process slipped out of control. The EU did not want a coup in which about a hundred people would have been killed. As a result, Yanukovych still retains his legitimate status, although removing him under different circumstances would have been a pure technicality," he said.

  • People have a right to choose which government they want. That's what real democracy is about. The people of Crimea have a right to speak up, all the more so that there is a historical precedent – Kosovo.

"The only parallel that can be drawn here is Kosovo. After the majority of Kosovars voted to secede from Serbia, the European Union rushed to support it regardless of the objections of the other side," Kuznetsov told the Voice of Russia.

  • Meanwhile, there have been obvious signs of centrifugal tendencies inside the EU. In addition to the March 16 plebiscite in Veneto, this year will see two more independence referendums – one in Catalonia (Spain) and the other in Scotland (UK).

"Europe faces yet another spiral of national self-determination. The things we are witnessing in Italy, Spain, Belgium and Britain prove that states that have existed in that region for centuries have outlived themselves. Modern Europe is a Europe of regions held together by an economic and political interstate alliance such as the EU. Within the framework of that alliance, we see states breaking apart and being reformatted, forming their own alliances for economic or other activities. From that point of view, it’s pretty strange of the EU to give the Scottish and Catalonian referendums the 'green light', while denying the same right to Crimea. It’s an example of double standards. As the ethnic issue, increasingly ignored by Brussels, tends to escalate, public opinion towards Crimea’s self-determination will start to change. Europe is on the brink of a new configuration… It is no secret that some European countries infringe on the rights of ethnic minorities. There are two possible scenarios: either the EU adopts a more balanced democratic line towards ethnic minorities or it risks further fragmentation into smaller ethnic areas," Kuznetsov said.

  • In April, the Europeans will be electing a new Europarliament with opponents of United Europe forecast to win up to 30 percent seats. So what's next - a split of the EU or a split of individual states, most of which were established in the 19th century? The latter is not unlikely, thinks Boris Shmelyov.

"The centrifugal tendencies in the EU may cause many West European states to break apart. The newly-emerged states will then start to build new relationships. It's hard to say how that process will affect the EU and NATO. But Europe is changing, it’s a fact. And the EU will have pretty much headache soon - it has enough already. Against the background of a looming political crisis in the EU, attempts to stoke a conflict between Russia and Ukraine and destroy the historical bonds between the two Slav nations are largely irrelevant. And the West knows that," Shmelyov said. 

Ksenia Fokina


No comments:

Post a Comment

Only News

Featured Post

US Democratic congresswoman : There is no difference between 'moderate' rebels and al-Qaeda or the ISIS

United States Congresswoman and Democratic Party member Tulsi Gabbard on Wednesday revealed that she held a meeting with Syrian Presiden...

Blog Widget by LinkWithin