Friday, September 22, 2006

Moscow and the West - Changes on the Way

A couple of items from yesterday's RFE/RL Newsline (9/21/2006):

GERMAN LEADER SAYS 'NO' TO MOSCOW-BERLIN-PARIS AXIS.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has closely involved the diplomats and leaders of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland in preparations for her planned September 23 meeting near Paris with French President Jacques Chirac and Russia's Vladimir Putin, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported on September 21. She wants to make it clear to all that she is opposed to reviving the Moscow-Berlin-Paris "axis" that took shape under her predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, and intends to present Baltic and Polish concerns to the Paris meeting. Latvian and Estonian diplomats have stressed to her the importance of Russia's finalizing border treaties with their countries. The daily reported that Merkel was angry that Chirac announced the summit on July 3 without consulting her, but decided to go with her own agenda rather than refuse to attend. She has long made it clear that she intends to follow the policy of her mentor, former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, of working closely with the smaller European countries, as well as with France and the other larger ones, and of strengthening the trans-Atlantic partnership. The daily noted that she telephoned U.S. President George W. Bush in connection with the Paris meeting and that Bush welcomed it as an opportunity for her to present her concerns over Iran to Chirac and Putin. Schroeder, who now heads the stockholders' oversight body for the planned Russo-German North European Gas Pipeline, brought U.S.-German relations to their lowest point since World War II through his active opposition to Washington (see "RFE/RL Newsline," May 26, July 17, August 24, and End Note, "RFE/RL Newsline," March 23, 2006). PM


IS AMERICA AGAIN THE ENEMY?

The [Russian] Defense Ministry has denied recent reports in the Moscow daily "Gazeta" and on lenta.ru that it is preparing a new official doctrine in which the United States and NATO are allegedly placed on a level with terrorists as threats to Russian security, "Gazeta" reported on September 20. Ministry spokesman Colonel Vyacheslav Sedov said that "there have been media reports about that before, but now, as on previous occasions, they're still a long way from the truth." The ministry's previous comprehensive defense doctrines date from 1993 and 2000. The daily suggested nonetheless that the ministry is trying to "hide something" from the public about defense plans. Elsewhere, on September 21 news.ru and "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on an alleged "secret report" to the State Duma prepared by a group of experts around former point man for Germany and CPSU Secretary Valentin Falin and former top foreign intelligence official Gennady Evstafiev. The alleged study says that Washington is seeking to promote an "Orange Revolution" in Russia by subtle and indirect means. PM

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