“Points for Cooperation”

On the heels of a Bloomberg story about how certain European countries fear losing security initiatives secured under the Bush administration, Der Spiegel reprints an engaging article on EU/Russia relations by Russia scholar Alexander Rahr, originally published in the journal of the German Council on Foreign Relations. It explains why the choices facing America and the EU concerning Russian integration are markedly different, and why a fractured EU has much more at stake, and a much tougher road to hoe.

Rahr writes:

“But if the United States continues to shun Russia as a potential international partner, the European Union will have no choice but to pursue its own independent policy of rapprochement. After all, while Russia may not be indispensable for world order, it is essential for European peace.”

Rahr recommends these “ten points for cooperation“:

  • Conceptual development of a joint missile defense system to provide equal protection for America, Europe, and Russia against potential attacks by rogue states. Also: joint space research to prevent an arms buildup in space;
  • Renewal of the Western energy alliance with Russia with the dual goal of ensuring long-term security for Russian energy deliveries to the West and providing Russia with Western technologies for the long overdue modernization of its energy complex; there should be an establishment of gas consortia between Western and Russian energy groups to prevent pipeline wars in Eurasia;

  • Close cooperation between the European Union and Russia onreforming international organizations such as the United Nations, theG-8, and the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe;possibly also new global “partnerships for peace” such as theNATO-Shanghai Organization for Cooperation;
  • Development of an EU-Russian plan for modernizing Siberia as apractical tool for achieving the objectives of the energy alliance.This plan will not only promote economic cooperation, but also codifythe strategic value of Russian resources for Europe’s futureprosperity;
  • Rebuilding trust among the states participating in thenonproliferation regime for weapons of mass destruction. Theformulation of a joint global “security doctrine” could bring Russia,the United States, and the European Union into a long-term allianceagainst international terrorism;
  • Creation of a functioning new mechanism between the European Unionand Russia that is not dependent on the consensus of all 27 memberstates. The old German-French-Russia troika causes too much ill easeamong the states of Central Europe. Based on the proposal by Eckart vonKlaeden of Germany’s Christian Democrats, the European Union shouldform a core group of European states and give them responsibility forEU-Russia policy;
  • Joint measures in climate and environmental protection. Russia, theEuropean Union, and the United States should consider the possibilityof an “ecological alliance” that would allow the European Union andRussia to meet joint challenges and develop shared options for actionwithin the framework of the Kyoto process;
  • Further expansion of joint projects between the European Union andRussia, including free trade zones, the dismantling of visa barriers,academic exchanges, and European-Russian peacekeeping missions in thepost-Soviet region, Africa, etc.;
  • The US-EU-UN-Russian quartet, which emerged in negotiations in theMiddle East, could be used in other conflict regions such as Iran andAfghanistan. Over the past few years, Russia has gained new politicalclout from its efforts to intensify economic ties with countries in theArab region, and it could use its new power to help promote Westerninterests;
  • Joint programs to fight poverty in developing countries. Theinternational energy, food, and financial crises will not only changethe global economic order but are also likely to result in massmigration and resource wars. Russia can provide aid for emergencyprograms and thus underscore its growing responsibility for theinternational economy.