Vyacheslav Nikonov president of the Politika Foundation
In the 1990s the European continent entered the most important period of its history after World War II. The 1990s became the period of formation of the new system of world?s order, post-Cold War European order on the background of growing globalisation. Europe went through three stages of creation of its new architecture. The first stage, which has been mentioned by Mikhail Gorbachev and Sergey Rogov, is the romantic period of the early 1990s. At the time, it seemed that very soon all of us would together reach the common European home with no dividing lines, and all countries would simultaneously develop in the mainstream of democratic changes and market reforms. But after this romantic period, there followed the chain of big and small mistakes and miscalculations.
The main mistake, to my mind, was that after the end of Cold War, when it was possible, we failed to create a new system of Euroatlantic security. In fact, at a certain stage NATO has become the European security system. NATO and European security became synonyms. But this system was actually vicious, since NATO did not include over a half of European states, among them such large countries as Russia and Ukraine. It has not been comprehensive, and in this respect it has been discriminative.
The second stage, which I would have named the stage of the division of Europe, began in 1994, when decision was made on NATO?s expansion as an answer to the security challenges that existed in Europe. As a result, the continent has been divided into four groups of states, and instead of one Berlin Wall, which symbolised the division of the world into East and West, there emerged three new walls. The first group included NATO and European Union member-countries - a club of "privileged". The second group included states that had chances to enter this club in the near future, the third group - countries that had a long-term perspective to enter it. The fourth group were the states that had never been seen as possible club members, including Russia.
Within the framework of this new system, Europe was tied with threads of a rather amorphous Organisation on Security and Co-operation in Europe, and security issues were solved along the lines of NATO relations with the states that were not members of this organisation through the programme "Partnership for Peace", Russia-NATO Founding Act, NATO-Ukraine Charter, and so on. The states that accepted rules of the game had hopes to become club members on condition of losing part of their sovereignty, delegating to Washington authority in making decisions in the military-political and military-strategic fields, and on the rest of issues - to Brussels and partly to Strasbourg. Europe has become a "melting pot", in which former communist countries were to "melt down".
Those who did not "melt" or did not fit into the new system were doomed to become periphery of Europe. For me it is clear that deciding on whom is going to stay in periphery, the issues, say, connected to democratic rule, human rights played important but not the sole role. Our American colleagues, including representatives of the United States? highest political leaders, with whom we for a long time have kept active dialogue, say openly that in the end it is not that important what regime will remain in this or that country; it is more important how this or that regime shows its readiness to co-operate and accepts the new world and European order. Agreeing that Belarusian regime, with all its shortfalls that we know well, is still more democratic than, say, those in Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan or Georgia, they will develop relations first of all with the states that show more loyalty towards Western interests. And it is perfectly clear that the countries that were doomed to stay on periphery of European system - like Belarus and, unfortunately, Russia - showed natural inclination for each other.
To my mind, this stage of division of Europe ended on March 24 this year after the bombing of Yugoslavia. There begun a new stage, which, as it seems to me, is a period of dismantling of the existing system that was established in Europe after the beginning of NATO?s expansion. This is a real watershed. For the first time after World War II a big war is going on in Europe. The primacy of international law and UN Security Council is seriously questioned. In that part of Europe where we are now , there for sure will be growing unwillingness to live in the system of co-ordinates, which is set in Washington and Brussels. The Russia-NATO Founding Act - and here I agree with Sergey Karaganov - is dead.
The participation of Russia in the programme "Partnership for Peace" is unlikely to be restarted and arms control - and here I agree with Sergey Rogov - will agonise. There is no Europe, as we knew it before, any longer. I do not think that there is all-European system at least in the issues that are connected with security. It is known that from the very beginning the OSCE was consciously created as ineffective organisation that was supposed to minimise negative side effects of bipolar confrontation; in many aspects it still remains ineffective. This has been well proved by the OSCE mission to Yugoslavia, which preceded the beginning of war. There were several missions there, with different objectives depending on NATO?s membership or non-membership status of its participants. In the end, on call from NATO capitals, the OSCE mission left Kosovo, letting bombers act.
In principle, the division of Europe may not continue. This is not the matter of life and death for Russia and Belarus. There are scenarios for development that is relatively isolated from Europe, though such development is not desirable. Russia and Belarus will strengthen their union irrespective of the development of the international situation, and we will be solving the problems that exist in our countries, including human rights problems, but within our borders. However, if situation develops this way, we will face great dangers. We risk losing our agenda in relations with Europe - as we have already lost our agenda in relations with the United States. The latter now has narrowed to the issues connected with the International Monetary Fund. And there is no American-Belarusian agenda at all. But this sort of European system will be very unstable, as it will satisfy neither Western Europe nor us. Both Russia and Western Europe in this situation - exactly because this system will not satisfy them - will be revisionist parties working at undermining the status quo.
I think that NATO will lose the war in Yugoslavia, because none of the declared goals of this war can be achieved. It is clear that war cannot stop humanitarian disaster. In war, humanitarian disaster is only increased. This war cannot weaken regime of Slobodan Milosevich, because Milosevich just grows stronger and will grow as strong as Saddam Hussein in Iraq after his country had been bombed. It is clear that peace will be reached in one or the other way: with less or more casualties, but it will come. And then once again, as at the beginning of the 1990s, the problem will arise - what kind of European security system there should be in the conditions of new realities?
The creation of all-European system from the Atlantic Ocean to the Ural Mountains, or the Atlantic system from Vancouver to Vladivostok, is still on the agenda and there is no alternative to it. In principle, three different variants are possible. The first variant, which to my mind will not work, is the one of a comprehensive NATO that would include all the states and not just selected European countries. I do not think that after what NATO is doing in Yugoslavia this variant will work. The second variant is the strengthening of the OSCE to make this organisation effective.
The strengthened OSCE should provide for adoption and realisation of decisions that could not be bypassed by certain groups of states representing the minority of the OSCE member-states - like now when NATO, which includes a clear minority of OSCE member-states, makes decisions on all- European problem. The third variant is the creation of something new. Perhaps, revitalisation of the idea of European Security Council, which has been mentioned here by Mikhail Gorbachev, who discussed this some time ago with H.-D. Gencher. The French many times put forward the idea on the basis of which there could be created a European security system that would be, first of all, comprehensive, than effective and not discriminative.
But here a key question emerges: who will do it? We have entered a very important phase of development that Europe is living through with the crisis of world?s leadership. In previous deepest European crisis, connected with World War II, the problems were solved by W. Churchill, F. D. Roosevelt and J. Stalin - irrespective of our attitude towards the latter - leaders that did have the sense of historic responsibility. I have very serious doubts if the current leaders of major world powers are able to show this sense of historic responsibility. President Clinton, Prime Minister Blair, Chancellor Schroder, President Yeltsin - it seems to me that these people are hardly able to rise to the level of the issues facing humanity at this very dangerous and crucial moment. What leadership can we talk about if ethnic conflict and ethnic cleansing are considered to be problems that can be solved with bombings of a country and killing of innocent people? This is not the world?s leadership.
It is perfectly clear that ethnic cleansing takes place not only in Yugoslavia. Is this a kind of a model then? According to my calculations, in 34 countries all over the world ethnic cleansing takes place. Are we going to declare war and bomb 34 countries? What Russian government was doing in Chechnya can also be named ethnic cleansing. Here I do not advocate such actions - it is impossible to solve the problem of ethnic cleansing through a full-scale war. In such a case genocide takes place. What is better - genocide or ethnic cleansing? Unfortunately, I am not as optimistic as Sergei Rogov, and I think that Europe and the world in general will have hard times in near future. Then, may God help us.