Moscow's Man at NATO Redefines the Meaning of Diplomacy
by Paul Goble
On-going series: Crisis in the Caucasus - 2008
The Russian / Georgian Conflict and Its Impact on Azerbaijan
Window on Eurasia: Original Blog Article
Vienna, October 15 Dmitry Rogozin, Moscow's outspoken representative at NATO, says that the central task of Russian diplomacy now is not to reach an accord with Western governments but rather to present Moscow's position forcefully and clearly, make Russia powerful and thus "force the West to respect and fear" it since "they will never love us."
In an interview given to ITAR-Tass Urals, Rogozin, the permanent representative of the Russian Federation to NATO, said that a forceful presentation of Russia's views will not lead to "a Cold War." Instead, he said, Moscow's new approach reflects the reality that "there will never be sympathy for a strong Russia"
But Russia does not need the love of the West, the Russian representative continued, it will be enough for Russia if "they fear and respect us." People around the world "do not love America, but they respect it because it is big and strong, and we must become big and strong" as well.
In the course of his interview, Rogozin made three other points.
(1) First, he said, the United States was behind the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, something the Europeans were dragged into supporting. The independence of Kosovo did not benefit them, but it did benefit the US, which has an interest in exacerbating tensions in the region.
(2) Second, Western countries whose governments accuse Russia of employing "disproportionate force" in Georgia, Rogozin said, have "a point of view [which is] incompetent and dishonest. On the one hand, he argued, it is the United States, which has deployed disproportionate force in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On the other, he noted, there is one sense in which this charge is true, albeit in ways that prove exactly the opposite of what those making it believe. If Russia had responded "proportionally" to Georgia, Tbilisi would have ceased to exist as a city and Georgia would have been eliminated "from the face of the earth."
(3) And third, Rogozin continued, Russia has always supported the principle of the inviolability of borders, although Moscow appreciates that there is another principle: the right of nations to self-determination. Both are legitimate parts of the international system even though they can contradict one another.
"Which is more important?" Rogozin asked rhetorically before responding: "I consider, he said, that the right of nations to self-determination is more important only in one case: when a people is threatened with physical destruction and the only means of preserving it is to split it off into a separate state."
The Moscow representative to NATO concluded his observation by saying that "earlier in the [Russian] foreign ministry the chief virtue of a diplomat was considered to be the ability to talk a great deal but not say very much, but now the times are different. It is necessary to bring our position to the attention of the Western community."
Unfortunately, Rogozin said, that is not easy because Russians and Western officials "speak different language. In our understanding, it is necessary to speak the truth while the Western political tradition is different: they think one thing, say another, and do yet a third. And when you tell them that they are hypocrites, they respond by saying "yes."
Rogozin is not a professional diplomat. Before being appointed to Brussels, he was a nationalist politician. But his remarks obviously reflect the views that some of the most senior officials in the Russian capital want delivered, either to see how the West will react or to demonstrate if there is no condemnation of what he said, that Moscow can act with impunity.