lundi 24 août 2009
The new Rapallo and us
There's nothing new in the German-Russian rapprochement unfolding under our eyes. Already before Peter the Great, Russia invited German military men, merchants, engineers to help Moscow to modernize its economy, infrastructure, army and education. Later, the Germans, especially the Baltic Germans, became very influential in Russian politics too. In modern times, Germany has had a love-and-hate relationship with Russia: there have been periods of conflict, but also periods of intensive cooperation, even in the military field. As Russia has always needed German know-how, Germans need resources, what they call Lebensraum, if we don't use this term in its strict geographical or geopolitical meaning. Thus, cooperation between the two states is in their mutual interest, and the developments we see now, are long overdue. It is not just the caprices or private interests of a Schroeder or Merkel that are behind the present rapprochement as some of us are inclined to think. The new Rapallo is here, and probably it is here to stay. I think that politicians in Eastern Europe must take this into account. As the Polish leaders seem to have understood: they have made some steps to normalize their relations with Russia. The new Rapallo frightens us, reminding us the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, but we should not over-react. Instead, we should try to find ways of approaching and even influencing Moscow via Berlin. I believe it is possible. The worst thing to do is to spoil our relations with Berlin too. It's high time to find a more balanced strategic relationship with the US. At present, we are just American client states, and it is not the best way of guaranteeing our security. We must not invest all our political capital in our special relationship with Washington. America is far away, Russia is just here, and will stay here in foreseeable future. We should try to use the German-Russian rapprochement in our interests, not to condemn it in a simplistic and moralistic way.