Friday, July 01, 2005

New Age Diplomacy

EU diplomats are always complaining that Russian diplomacy is too outdated and retrograde. Russian diplomats don’t get the new post-modernist style of European diplomacy. For example, EU diplomats try to find “win-win” solutions but Russians still choose old-fashioned “zero sum” scenarios. EU diplomats put forward global values but Russian diplomats stick to national interests.
Maxim Sokolov from “Izvestia” made a good point about diplomatic peculiarities of EU countries when dealing with Russia. Just several weeks ago, Russia and Estonia signed a border agreement. It took more than 10 years of hard negotiations before all controversial issues were settled down. The signed agreement then went to the Estonian parliament where Estonian MPs added (!) a couple of passages to the text with mentions of Tartu agreement of 1920 according to which a big chunk of Russian territory should belong to Estonia. They also couldn’t keep themselves from mentioning that Estonia was illegally occupied by the USSR. Then they ratified the agreement with these additions. That’s a very post-modernist thing to do! What was the use of 10 years of negotiations if the parliament can “enhance” the already signed document with whatever it wants? Does the new age diplomacy mean that Russian MPs can also add a passage about Neustadt Treaty of 1721 between Russia and Sweden when the territory of modern day Estonia was annexed to Russia? Therefore, Estonia and Russia can have two different texts of the same treaty.Another pearl of EU new age diplomacy was also spotted by Maxim Sokolov. Soon Russia will start celebrations of the 750 anniversary of Kaliningrad (Koenigsberg). Polish and Lithuanian diplomats officially expressed their indignation that they were not invited whereas Germany was invited. The out-dated retrograde style of diplomacy implies that state officials in such cases keep silent. Any celebration is an inner affair and hosts have the right to choose whom to send invitations and whom to ignore. Post-modernist diplomacy, probably, suggests that a country can demand to be invited to whatever celebration they like to attend. For example, in 1994 Russia was not invited to the Normandy celebration but Boris Yeltsin was smart enough to keep his mouth shut although, knowing his passion for international drinking bouts, he wanted it very much. An interesting twist in non-invitation of Poland and Lithuania is the Yalta-Potsdam post-WWII agreement. Poland and Lithuania believe that it was an evil and illegal act of betrayal that brought both countries under the Stalin tyranny. However, the same evil Yalta-Potsdam agreement annexed Koeningsberg to the USSR, Memel to Lithuania and Allenstein to Poland. So, what if Russians in this case were not rude but just very tactful?


Anonymous said...

Have to comment that border treaty story. There was no "a big chunk of Russian territory *should* belong to Estonia", but it was "a big chunk of Russian territory *did* belong to Estonia". The intention was to refer to last bordery treaty between these two countries (and not Sweden, Japan or Martians) and made it obsolete. Without such official "cancellation" of old borders, ratification of a new treaty is much more likely to cause troubles in future.

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