A potentially seismic geo-political shift is taking place in Europe. The pan-European settlement that has eluded the continent since the fall of the Berlin War is emerging into view.
It is the doing not of the Brussels technocracy but of the sovereign nations of pan-Europe—not least Ukraine, whose adoption of non-aligned status last April contributed powerfully to this development.
At the time, this author noted in the pages of the Kyiv Post that Ukraine’s rejection of NATO would pave the way for a “a new European rapprochement involving Berlin, Paris, Kyiv and Moscow, an incipient concert of the main powers that may yet include Warsaw.”
Consider what has transpired since:
French President Nicolas Sarkozy met recently with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to discuss the creation of a single zone of European security and economic cooperation to supersede (though not annul) NATO.
It was an event of capital political importance as it represented Europe’s official embrace of Russia’s call for a new, continental (effectively Eurasian) security architecture.
Merkel called for a joint Russia/European Union mechanism to coordinate security policies and reach political settlements on such matters at the conflict in Transdnistria.
Sarkozy did not mince words: “We live in a new world, a world of friendship between Russia and Europe.”
It is a friendship based on more than sentiment. From a German perspective, Ostpolitik has never looked more attractive—or more potentially lucrative:
Germany imports energy products from Russia, which then uses the proceeds to buy German capital goods and know-how to revamp its crumbling infrastructure.
By the same token, Germany has a severe labor shortage, which it has no desire to rectify through increased immigration; Russia, despite its demographic crisis, retains an oversupply of labor compared to the size of its economy. So German industry has access to abundant skilled and semi-skilled labor by investing directly in Russia, enabling Russia to reduce unemployment increase productivity and broaden its tax base.
In July, German engineering giant Siemens signed a multi-billion-euro deal to upgrade Russia’s rail transport infrastructure by 2024. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
It’s a marriage made in heaven, the proverbial win-win on a colossal scale and destined to last—and a dynamic equally valid for Ukraine.
Now Poland is getting into the act. According to the Eurasia Intelligence Report published by IRIS, the Paris-based think tank, Russian-Polish relations are in “overdrive” with a major long-term gas deal recently inked in Warsaw and a plethora of high-level contacts taking place. In the first half of 2010, the volume of bilateral trade jumped 50 percent compared to the same period last year.
The emerging relationship will serve to balance Poland’s deep and mutually beneficial ties to Germany.
The emerging pan-European entente also has a spiritual dimension. Last summer, a delegation of senior hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church traveled to Warsaw to meet their Polish Catholic counterparts. A reciprocal visit is in the offing.
The aim is to work out a declaration of cooperation between the two churches, giving impetus to Pope Benedict XVI’s goal of Catholic-Orthodox solidarity (not to be confused with unification or inter-communion). He sees the rapprochement of the churches as vital to Europe’s moral, cultural and demographic revival in the face of post-modern despair and Islamic encroachment.
Ukraine must proceed on the two tracks of what Charles de Gaulle called l’Europe des technocrates (the EU technocracy) and l’Europe des patries (the Europe of the nations, eternal Europe):
Concerning the EU, Kyiv and Brussels are moving towards the establishment of a free trade area (to complement Ukraine’s recent accession to the European Energy Community) and visa-free travel. These measures promise tangible benefits for Ukrainians.
A member of l’Europe des patries by birthright, Ukraine has already served as a catalyst for the healing of Europe’s tragic and debilitating East-West divide. To build on what it has achieved to date, Ukraine should:
- Work with its European partners towards a security architecture, which, like the Helsinki accord of 1975, upholds the inviolability of national borders and respect for territorial integrity.
- Work out a stable and economically rational gas transit regime with Russia and Europe;
- Strengthen democracy, civil liberties and the rule of law—not to placate Brussels (or, for that matter, Washington), but in the interest of good governance and internal modernization.
The fashioning of a unified Europe—prosperous and at peace with itself and the world—is essential to the achievement of Ukraine’s principle objective—its internal modernization.
Editors Note: Anthony T. Salvia is executive director of the Kyiv-based American Institute in Ukraine. Previously he served as an appointee of President Ronald Reagan to the US Department of State and at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Munich and Moscow. The organization’s website iswww.aminuk.org.