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::Geopolitics

Global Politics Needs Openness and Democracy

Global Politics Needs Openness and Democracy
May 2, 2007
Sergey LAVROV, Russian Foreign Minister

A globalizing and increasingly interdependent world opens up breathtaking prospects for socioeconomic progress and mutual enrichment of cultures. However, the fight for a safe world is still ahead of us. Threats and challenges to the security and stable development of Russia and the entire world community are growing. They include international terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and regional crises. Layered over these is growing competition for access to natural resources, particularly energy resources,
which is often veiled by slogans of "democratization" and "humanitarian intervention;" there is also tension in intercivilizational relations incited by terrorists and advocates of ideologized and strong-arm approaches to international affairs.

As bloc-to-bloc confrontation recedes into the past, the potential for conflict is objectively reduced. At the same time, attempts to impose on the world an exaggerated significance of the force factor and aspirations to resolve existing problems from a position of political expediency are giving many countries a sense of insecurity, promoting an arms race, and leading to an expansion of the scope for conflict in global politics.

The bloc and ideological motives for the behavior of states are losing their relevance, whereas other motives have not been formed yet. Hopes that affirmation of democratic values will become a universal regulating principle did not come true. The problem of controllability of the world process has become the focal point of international politics.

The emergence of new economic growth centers deprives the West of its monopoly on globalization processes and leads to a more equitable distribution of resources. The economic potential of these centers is converted into their political influence thus reinforcing multipolarity. Multilateral diplomacy, in various forms - including parliamentary diplomacy and international cooperation via NGOs - is playing an increasing role as the most important method of regulating international relations at the global and regional levels. This kind of diplomacy may well be described as network diplomacy.

Unfortunately, some of our partners are still unable to understand that the world radically changed with the end of the Cold War. Bipolar confrontation was a conflict within one civilization, since the opposing forces were products, even though different ones, of the same European liberal thinking. At present, at issue is competition and the need to reach agreement at the intercivilizational level also. Therefore, the "rules of the game" in globalization and world politics should be a product of intercivilizational consensus. This seems clear and natural to us, if only due to the historic experience of Russia's existence as a multiethnic and multireligious state. We would like to see all of our Western partners finally give up any illusions on the eternal nature of their domination in all aspects of international affairs.

As Russia grows stronger - and, perhaps for the first time in its history, defends its national interests by using all of its competitive advantages - a competitive environment is gradually being re-established in international relations. The value orientations of development models are being drawn into the orbit of this rivalry. Those who once wrote us off as an equal partner regard this as an ncroachment on their transient privileged position in global politics.

In particular, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the ultimate foreign policy
objective of the US administration is to perpetuate America's sole leadership in world affairs despite the fact that countering terrorism and other new challenges and threats can be objective achieved solely on the basis of broad multilateral cooperation.

An example of unfair competition and ideologized approaches to international relations can be found in the accusations made against Russia: human rights abuses, "imperialist aspirations" within the former Soviet Union, "energy
blackmail," and even selfishness. We are not pretending that we do not care about this, but neither are we overdramatizing it. We are responding without any hysteria. We hope that our partners will finally manage to escape from the
political psychology precepts of containing Russia and maintaining total control over everything and everyone in global politics. We would like to see a different notion prevail: the idea of the international community as a living organism, self-sufficient and self-organizing, with no need for puppet-masters. What it does
need is democracy -- entailing well-reasoned debates and a search for consensus.

The world's cultural-civilizational diversity is a prescription that cannot be disregarded. The world community's task is to facilitate the creation of favorable external conditions for socioeconomic development and advancement of
democratic principles on their basis -- not only within individual countries, but also in international relations. Hence, the importance of struggle against global poverty, movement toward fair trade rules, renunciation of concealed
subsidies, the lifting of restrictions on access to advanced technologies, which perpetuate the economic backwardness of the Third World. The organic correlation between human rights, security, and development is not our invention.

This conclusion was drawn by the UN secretary general based on the results of the report that laid foundations for the UN reform agenda, which was unanimously approved by Summit 2005. The recent summit of the Arab states in Riyadh convincingly demonstrated again that modification of the global and regional security architectures is a distinctive feature of the current phase in
the development of international relations. We are dealing with a situation where regional entities are assuming increasing responsibility for the maintenance of regional stability and the resolution of regional problems. We cannot but
welcome this sound trend corresponding to the UN Charter provisions on the need to encourage peaceful settlement with the help of regional mechanisms.

It is necessary to increase the number of participants in the search for solutions to world problems. Everyone should realize that it is counterproductive to try to usurp regulation processes -- be it in the Middle East, Iraq, or Kosovo. There is no doubt that some day the United States will find its niche in the multipolar world in harmony and competition with other states, but clearly this will take time.

All of America's friends -- and we regard ourselves as ones -- should help the United States to make a "soft landing" in multipolar reality. I am convinced that the idea to develop the Euro-Atlantic arena as an entity based on trilateral collaboration between Russia, the EU, and the United States across a broad range of issues would facilitate this task. This collaboration is already taking place in various configurations with the involvement of other countries and organizations. It is important to ensure the steady dynamics of this kind of collective leadership.


In relations with the United States, we find ourselves recalling the proverb that "a friend in need is a friend indeed." How should America's true friends behave in the prevailing situation? Two scenarios are conceivable. First: Put a shoulder to the wheel and unconditionally participate in all America's ventures. Second:
Take a principled stance proceeding from the true interests of partnership and international community in general. Briefly then, we should be telling the truth. As Chancellor Aleksand Mikhaylovich Gorchakov pointed out in his day,
"the best way to live in full accord with all governments is not to conceal our thoughts." Not everyone will dare to take this stance.

Therefore, this burden is for those who can bear it. Russia does not aspire to the status of a superpower, including an energy superpower. We are absolutely happy with what we have: The position of one of the world's leading states. We
do not want others to obey us; we want them to listen to us and to take our opinions into account.

Russia has no interests that are incompatible with the international community's interests. We will not allow ourselves to be drawn into confrontation. We are ready to work with others to create a just and democratic world order that
guarantees security and prosperity for all, not just for the chosen ones. We are convinced that a sincere substantive discussion of international affairs bringing the world community closer to a common vision of the current epoch would facilitate progress in this direction. President Putin's speech in Munich on 10 February 2007 was an invitation to this kind of discussion. At the same time it confirmed Russia's resolve to pursue an open and predictable foreign policy.

Our partners are completely ignoring the need for what I would call "working on mistakes." After all, we do not have to start from scratch now that the Cold War is over. Too many mistakes have been made and we must not follow the logic of the well-known proverb stating that "you cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs." The rubble which has accumulated in global and regional politics needs to be cleared away. This should be the priority for the entire international community at this stage. For this purpose we all have to choose collective actions and a common vision of the importance of the current
historical epoch, which, according to Zbigniew Brzezinski, requires truly global solidarity. We are not inventing anything; we are not absorbed in empirical and abstract thinking. We are acting from the perspective of life and its urgent
needs. Those who have not lost the ability to think broadly and objectively arrive at the same conclusions.

A state's influence in the contemporary world is increasingly defined in "soft power" categories. It is the ability to influence other states' behavior through the fact that a particular country is attractive in terms of culture, civilization, the humanities and sciences, foreign policy and other fields; it also means readiness and ability to promote the positive unifying agenda in international affairs. In
these circumstances civil society's involvement in the foreign-policy process and increasing the role of parliamentary diplomacy are important factors to ensure the competitiveness of our foreign policy and Russia in general.

We will continue to be consistent in upholding our national interests and abiding by pragmatic and multilateral principles and maintaining normal relations with all states without exception on the basis of equality, reciprocal respect for interests, and mutual advantage. This approach also entails continuing to move toward
full-fledged integration into global politics and the global economy.

Kevin Baron
As the final two presidential debates turn toward foreign policy, starting tonight, one major divergent point between President Obama and Mitt Romney still not fully explored by the candidates is Romney’s claim that Russia is America’s "number one geopolitical foe.”
Kevin Begos

Natural gas resurgence in the United States means lower natural gas prices, more potential for Europe to drill its own natural gas, and a rising threat to Russia's gas exports.

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