YUGOSLAVIAN CRISIS: AN ATTEMPT TO CHANGE THE PHILOSOPHY OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

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MIKHAIL GORBACHEV former USSR President, "Gorbachev Foundation" president
I agree with Academician A. Mikhailov to create here on Belarusian soil a Minsk Forum. Our Foundation is ready to be a founder of the Minsk Forum, a participant of this good deed. The idea of Academician Mikhailov deserves our support and praise.

For a long time we were getting ready for this seminar. But, frankly speaking, we were preparing for different things to discuss. I wanted to deliver a speech "United Europe - Myth or Real Perspective". But today I have to speak of slightly different things. It is fruitless to discuss the above topic if we keep aside the situation in Yugoslavia. We have to discuss here how we shall overcome this crisis.

Our discussion cannot be the same as it would have been before March 24 this year. We cannot consider that we live in the same world we lived in before March 24. Cardinal and very important changes took place. Generally speaking, undeclared war in Yugoslavia opens a new stage in European and world policy. In fact, we talk about the open attempt to revise the principles that the West stood for - though sometimes just formally - in the second half of the 20th century. We witnessed the fact that the international law had been thrown away because of its being superfluous, and force came in. The force has been used taking into consideration only one criterion - an expediency that corresponds to the position of a very narrow group, not taking into consideration interests of many states, which this way or other bear relation to the Balkans situation.

In fact, the place of the UN and its Security Council, of the OSCE has been taken by NATO, breaking fundamental principles, on the basis of which this very organisation was created. And this is very serious. During the last three to four years I have followed with concern things that happen in the world?s policy and cannot be left without our attention, analysis and evaluation. I think that actually the revision of the world development strategy is going on. We can see now how this revision shows itself in Yugoslavia.

After the end of the Cold War, after the reunification of Germany, in all speeches and in all documents of that time the idea had been fixed that we were entering a new world and we needed a new world order. Concerning Europe, everyone shared the idea that we need a new architecture of security in Europe, which would have replaced the opposition of the blocks, and the Warsaw Treaty and NATO were to be transformed from military and political unions into political organisations. Moreover, it was mentioned that we should synchronise reunification of Germany with the European process, take it to the new stage so that it could reflect and take into consideration the needs of the new situation, new context.

And it went on that way. Just remember meetings both at the Warsaw Treaty Organisation and NATO. I remember best the London meeting of 1991, during which it was stated that NATO doctrine was going to change, that Europe was entering a new historic stage. It was said at the same time that NATO was going to transform into minimising military elements in its activities. Moreover, on my initiative, which was supported by the US President George Bush, and the German Foreign Minister Hans- Dietrich Hencher, in October 1990 the meeting took place, at which new situation in Europe was discussed and proposals were made concerning the filling of European process. This meeting resulted in decision to sign the Vienna Agreement on Reduction of Conventional Weapons and Armed Forces in Europe, the aim of which was to reduce the level of opposition in Europe between the two blocks, each of which at the time had two million soldiers armed with the most modern weapons. The other result of that meeting was the signing of the Paris Charter - the political platform for the construction of new architecture of European security. The Paris Charter covered not only military but also economic and cultural aspects of the further development of Europe.

But in six months or in a year after the Soviet Union ceased to exist, this tendency was reversed. I saw how the process of NATO restructuring gradually slowed down. I saw the attempts to start political games on the European continent. I felt it especially acutely when the well known processes in Yugoslavia started. In November 1991, at the end of my term as the USSR President, I invited F. Tujhman and S. Milosevich for talks. Talking to them I felt that it was possible to go political way in solving the problems emerging in Yugoslavia, without the use of force. That meeting ended in a rather serious understanding of the fact that Yugoslavians should solve their internal problems with the help of friends who were interested in a peaceful solution of conflict situations. And their problems are very serious. Knowing the history of that state everybody understood there could not be simple solutions, if disintegration processes started. On the other hand, there started the pressure from some circles in Austria and Germany to recognise independence of Slovenia and Croatia as soon as possible. And it happened so - instead of all the Yugoslavians from all republics sitting at the table and reaching agreement with the participation of representatives of Europe how to solve the situation when Slovenia and Croatia declared their independence. Accor-dingly, completely different, destructive process started to develop.

Then there emerged the idea of "Partnership for Peace". Those were the attempts to review approaches, on the basis of which we began to move toward the new world order after the Cold War ended. From then on I often criticised revision of these approaches. Moreover I said that, in the end, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland would enter NATO. I think that it is very bad. But I should say that I am concerned not with this. I saw the philosophy and the approaches, upon which the plans for future European and world order were built, toppling. This concerned me, of course.

The current conflict in Yugoslavia has proved this. The consequences of revision of the principles and philosophy, on the basis of which we had managed to end Cold War confrontation have surfaced. It seems that the West, united in NATO, does not need international law, UN Security Council. The UN, its Security Council and OSCE turned out to be helpless and could not influence the situation. Instead of building a new Europe and new world order on the basis of new realities and new context after the Cold War, the process has been curtailed. This means completely different approaches and plans.

I think that if the arbitrariness that now takes place in international affairs will become a consistently implemented principle, this would mean change of all the philosophy of international relations. Everything starts with philosophy then follows policy, and so on. Then new conditions for the world division into metropolia, semico-lonies, colonies, protectorates will be designed. Regions, countries and peoples will be divided into different categories in relation to which different behaviour norms will be applied.

No matter how hot is the situation, how many emotions and passions are around it, we should not limit ourselves and reduce everything to angry denunciation of what is going on. I think it is important to understand reasons of what has happened and define a realistic strategy of the movement towards a democratic and humane European and world order.

I took note that impulses towards the change in international relations philosophy come from the United States of America. And I did not left it unnoticed. A year ago I turned out to be at the 75th anniversary of the Time magazine as a speaker on leadership. The last to speak was the US President Bill Clinton. The topic of his speech was the leadership of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Accor-ding to his speech, I noted, the 20th century became the century of America. The current American President said that with the help of God Americans should make the 21th century an American one. Naturally, the question arises: what is next? This is the philosophical basis upon which the policy should be built. Now we can see what sort of policy will be implemented in future.

Two months later I published in the Time ma-gazine the article "Reading John Kennedy Again". I reminded the reader about his speech in June 1963, after which some people started to suspect that the wrong person took the office of the US President. In his speech, John Kennedy said that criticising communism Americans should not demonise Soviet people - they, in the same way as Americans, dream of peace, of happiness, of happy future for their children. We must not forget these words: I think he was a prophet.

John Kennedy also said that there was not going to be Pax Americana for Americans. And if it is going to be then this world is going to be for all. Now, 37 years later, we hear they want to make the 21th century the American one. Is this what the American political thought in the years of Bill Clinton develops into? In finding out reasons of what is going on, it would be too shallow to reduce the situation in Yugoslavia just to the sharp stage of the Balkans crisis. In reality, these events have more serious meaning.

Undoubtedly, the Yugoslavian crisis is one of the most complicated and explosive in the post-Cold War world. There we find a lot of problems: economic, social, political, ethnic, religious and geopolitical. The level of complication of this crisis can be compared to the Middle East. And we do know for how long the Middle East crisis lasts and how difficult it is to deal with.

Naturally, there are internal causes and motives in the Yugoslavian tragedy. But I should say that the present situation became possible not only because of Milosevich - though he contri-buted a lot into it. Now Albanians, Serbs and all the others who live there appeared in conditions of humanitarian disaster. All the modern force of the most po-werful states that have the most modern weapons is directed against small country. But is the use of force the way to prevent humanitarian disasters?

If so, then why do we see it this way only in Yugoslavia? Let us remember how many similar conflicts there are in the world. Basques in Spain, Kurds in Turkey, Iran and Iraq. Then Chechnya, Abkhazia, Northern Osetia. Further Kashmir, Tibet, Tamils, and so on. Why then in all of these cases bombs as the instrument of coercion towards political settlement are not used? Then the case is not only in the wish to prevent humanitarian disaster. It seems that it is important for someone to make it clear and show a lot on the European continent. For example, show helplessness of international structures on the background of which this someone comes to rescue and secures peace without mandate from the UN Security Council. To show that Europe started to give itself airs, and in economic terms it is a competitor that is gaining power, but in politics - it is a political midget. And show, at last, that Russia should be satisfied with the role it has been given, let it take part in the discussions but it is not and will not be permitted to make political decisions.

We see that international organisations, in which decisions that take into account common and not only American interests are made, are increasingly ignored. A lot of issues are solved this way and we know well in what direction.

But the world does not accept such philosophy. No matter how the Yugoslavian crisis ends - one can completely destroy the whole country - the world community has made conclusions. The monopolar world is unacceptable for international community and for America itself. America itself is divided. During the last week there appeared in New York Times and Washington Post articles by the known and influential people, in which they cast doubts on the strategy of the American administration.

Samuel Huntington warns that Washington pursues a very dangerous course in the face of a good part - and maybe of a majority - of the world?s states. He suggested that the USA are becoming an irresponsible superpower, which is seen by other societies as a major external threat. The advocates of the theory of Realism in international relations forecast the possibility of appearance of coalition to counterbalance such an irresponsible superpower. This is just one fragment of discussions in the United States concerning this issue. Besides, I know feelings of ordinary Americans. America - and now I mean America and not its current administration, and we should not equal the policy of administration with wishes of all the Ame-ricans - does not want to play the part of gendarme.

Besides, look at the other countries - China, India, Italy, Greece. Among NATO member-states there is no absolute support from the public. This is a proof of the correctness of those warnings, which I have mentioned above: the policy that is based on the philosophy different from the one with the help of which we have stopped the Cold War, leads to division.

Russia, even in the conditions of economic weakness and weakness of its foreign policy (two years ago I said that Russian foreign policy was just being formed, that there was no thought over Russian foreign policy, there were just foreign po-licy steps), can do a lot. A lot of important advice were put forward for Russia but they are not being realised.

Perhaps, with the arrival of Yevgeny Prima-kov they started to be realised, but it is still a long way to the moment when we can say that today this is the very policy which is appropriate for Russia. Because of its economic weakness, Russia plays just the role it can, and nothing more. Nevertheless, I would support the foreign policy position of the Russian government - against the bloodshed, against such approach to solving crises. In this case, I support the fact that the Russian government stands for political solution and I support those concrete steps which - though a bit late - are being taken. Of course, the Russian potential is not being used in full; the Russian side did not show the necessary initiative for creation of secure situation before the bombings of Yugoslavia had started. It seems to me that now Russia has even more opportunities. I would formulate the task in the following way: it is necessary to stop the bloodshed and help our partners. I still refer to Americans and all Europeans as partners. We have to help our partners out of this situation, in which they found themselves and to which they draw us all in. It is difficult to imagine - and I would not like to do it now - what can follow later. I think that we have to concentrate on how to stop the use of force.

I praise Alexander Lukashenko?s trip to Belgrade. I think that it is good that our countries act as allies and better co-ordinate their actions. Belarus also tries to make its contribution. Now we have to help stop the bloodshed.

I would like the professionals present here - Rogov, Karaganov, Nikonov and others - to think this over. I think that later our main aim is going to be finding an answer to the following question - how we shall build the new Europe, on what principles all-European security system should be crea-ted. I have already mentioned the idea of creation of Security Council for Europe. Many people support my point. The system of European security should be created. NATO cannot provide us with security. And now we cannot accept NATO: we have all the arguments to say this. I would recommend that Russia or some group of countries come out with the proposal to convene UN General Assembly and introduce a draft on reforming the Uni-ted Nations and the Security Council so that these structures could not be paralysed, could receive a breath of fresh air and become more effective instruments in solving international problems.

Everything possible has to be done so that eve-rybody would believe that we do not slide down towards a new Cold War. Otherwise, "threshold" countries would do everything to get nuclear weapons. If no international organisation can defend a sovereign state from the use of force by other states, then they would look for other ways of self-defence. And this would just push us to a new stage of nuclear weapons proliferation. What was the recent reaction by India? Now India will upgrade its nuclear weapons to make itself secure. And there are 31 to 35 states that can be considered "threshold" ones. The spread of nuclear weapons is a big threat. And the weapons of "poor" countries - bacteriological, chemical, terrorism? If now the situation is going to develop the old way, then everything of the above will be used sooner or later. This is very serious.

Everyone has to understand seriousness of the consequences of these events and help our partners to get rid of the "winners? complex". This is the gravest illness. Then comes dizziness and wrong political decisions are made. That is why we have to help them. I think that this should be our contribution. We should not get involved into this conflict and turn it into a European or world conflict. This must be excluded.


Опубликовано 09 июня 2016 года




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