Day: November 14, 2006

Ukraine Now

Maidan has published an extensive study of the present situation in Ukraine by Alex Bogomolov of the Maidan Alliance, originally prepared for the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), for presentation at a CEPS-IISS-DCAF seminar in Brussels held on November 6, 2006.

Among the topics covered are the political scene in Ukraine, the NATO debate, business and politics, regional challenges, and the security sector.

From the paper’s conclusion:

…the major internal and external threats that the nation is faced with now include:

1. Backsliding into an authoritarian mode – i.e. adopting a model that takes its inspiration in Putin’s Russia or, much worse becoming its satellite. Formation of a PRU-led oligarchic monopoly could be entry to this mode. So far PRU shows many sings of heading there. To avoid that, Ukraine needs to preserve at least the current level or political and economic competition.

2. Political isolation and hence arrested democratic development. If the country continues to follow an ambiguous and indecisive political course toward two major actors – Russia and the West, sugar-coating it with outdated political concepts such as neutrality or multi-vector policies, or openly joins any of the Russia-led integrationist initiatives such as the Unified Economic Space, Ukraine risks a de-facto international isolation. Meanwhile, democracy, open society can only live in an open world. It seems that to ensure a stable solution to this problem, Ukraine needs to put the final dots on its energy dilemma, or strive as hard as possible to divide these two issues, which will be impossible without European partnership.

3. Social division, regional instability, separatism and loss of sovereignty over parts of the territory. This challenge most seriously concerns Crimea. It calls for upgrading the institutional capacity of the security sector, but even more for a serious open public discussion and a new inclusive national project, able to overcome the constraints of ethnic nationalism. Without a new Ukrainian-European national project Ukraine will hardly be capable to address either of these two aspects.

4. Becoming part of a larger unstable region, which might include the continuously destabilized Northern Caucasus, South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Transnistria. This sad perspective seems possible and presents a security concern for both Ukraine and the EU in medium to longer term perspective. The processes in the neighboring Russian Federation likely to contribute to it include: the ongoing civil war in Chechnya and militant re-islamization of the Northern Caucasus, the growing xenophobia, state-sponsored persecution on ethnic and religious grounds, proliferation of radical Russian nationalism. All this comes against the backdrop of policies effectively reducing the nation’s immunity to these negative processes – such as restrictions of democratic freedoms, police harassments, censorship of media and persecutions of free journalists, restrictions on civil society organizations.

Gas Pipeline a Military Threat to Sweden

From Dagens Nyheter (November 14, my tr.):

The Russian gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea involves an obvious security problem for Sweden. This is admitted by defence minister Mikael Odenberg.

The pipeline has environmental, energy and security policy implications, Mikael Odenberg tells DN.

The defence minister says that he himself could have signed an op-ed article in DN written by Ulrica Messing, social democratic leader of the Swedish parliamentary defence committee. Messing describes the gas pipeline – and the maintenance platform that is to be placed off the island of Gotska Sandön – as “very problematic for Sweden’s defence interests”.

“We’re getting a pipeline which motivates a Russian naval presence, a pipeline which if the Russians want can be used as platform for intelligence activity. It’s clear that this is a problem,” the defence minister admits.

Energy and the EU

Some energy-related items from the RFE/RL Newsline (November 13):

WILL POLAND BLOCK EU-RUSSIA ENERGY SUMMIT? Polish Economy Minister Piotr Wozniak said in Warsaw on November 10 that his country insists that Russia ratify the transit protocol of the EU-Russia Energy Charter, which Russia signed in 1994 but never ratified, as a precondition to Poland’s backing for any talks on a new EU-Russia partnership agreement, European dailies reported on November 11 and 13 (see “RFE/RL Newsline,” October 30 and 31, 2006). The Energy Charter would require Moscow to open up access to its pipelines. Wozniak and other Polish officials said that Poland will veto any proposal to start talks on a new EU-Russia comprehensive cooperation agreement to replace the current Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which runs out in 2007, unless Brussels agrees to pressure Moscow to grant greater access to its pipelines. The state-run monopoly Gazprom currently controls Russia’s pipeline system and effectively blocks access to independent gas projects. EU foreign ministers are scheduled to meet in Brussels on November 13 to discuss a possible EU-Russia energy summit. Some news agency reports suggest that Lithuania backs the Polish position. Wozniak also criticized on November 10 the projected Russo-German Nord Stream gas pipeline (formerly the North European Gas Pipeline) on the grounds that it will increase European dependency on Russian gas supplies. He said that Polish suspicions about the deal persist despite efforts by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to reassure Warsaw. He added that Germany should “forget” the project. PM

SPANISH MEDIA REVEAL DETAILS OF EU LEADERS’ VIEWS OF RUSSIA. Minutes of the October 20 working lunch in Lahti, Finland, during which EU leaders outlined their ideas for that same evening’s dinner with Russian President Vladimir Putin, found their way into a wastebasket at the Spanish Foreign Ministry and have been analyzed in depth in the Madrid press in recent days, Germany’s “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” reported on November 11 and Russia’s on November 13 (see “RFE/RL Newsline,” October 23, 24, and 26, 2006). According to those reports, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said that it is necessary “to keep cool” in dealing with Putin. He argued, however, that Russia and the EU “are interdependent. We need their energy and they need our markets.” Europe must nonetheless seek out other energy suppliers, such as Norway, Algeria, and Turkey, he added. French President Jacques Chirac reportedly agreed with Barroso’s remark about “keeping cool” and said that “Europe’s security and stability depend to a good extent on Russia. Russia has obligations and interests, and so do we. We must demonstrate mutual understanding and concentrate on the most important [things]: the security and stability of Europe.” German Chancellor Merkel is said to have stressed the importance of diversifying Europe’s sources of energy supplies. She said that “one must bring Russia around to more constructive positions. The EU’s negotiating position is sufficiently solid [to do so].” PM

EUROPEANS STRESS THEIR OWN EXPERIENCES IN DEALING WITH RUSSIA. According to the minutes of the EU summit in Lahti, Finland, Polish President Lech Kaczynski agreed with Chancellor Merkel about the importance of energy diversification, Germany’s “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” reported on November 11. He also stressed the importance of “stabilizing the situation in Georgia.” Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen is said to have argued that the EU leaders should bring up Georgia and Chechnya with President Putin. The leaders of the three Baltic states reportedly noted their concerns about possible environmental disasters and reductions in energy supplies as a result of eventual accidents at refineries or along pipelines in Russia. Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus is said to have called attention to the extent to which the Baltic states are geographically “isolated” from the EU’s internal market. He thanked Germany and other EU partners for their help in overcoming this obstacle. Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany reportedly stressed that Russia’s relations with its EU partners are “asymmetrical” and that Russia “could cut off [energy] supplies for a month and cause us damage without suffering themselves.” Czech President Vaclav Klaus is said to have noted that the underlying reason for the diversity of views around the table is that the respective countries have different geographical situations and different historical experiences. EU foreign- and security-policy chief Javier Solana reportedly argued that all potential energy suppliers are unstable, with the exception of Norway. He urged EU member states to reconsider their positions on nuclear energy with that in mind. PM