100+ German-speaking eastern Europe experts call for reality-based Russia policy (SIGN a petition in support)

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2014/12/21 • Analysis & Opinion, Featured, Op-ed

schroeder putin

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder with Vladimir Putin

In early December 2014, 60 well-known German politicians and public figures published the appeal “Another War in Europe? Not in our Name!,” which assigned Russia and the West equal blame for the recent deterioration in relations and reiterated support for Russia’s supposedly threatened “legitimate security interests.” Among the signees were former German chancellor and current Gazprom employee Gerhard Schröder, former ARD (German TV) correspondent Gabriele Krone-Schmalz, who after having given numerous paid speeches on behalf of Gazprom argued in a November 2014 talk show appearance that the annexation of Crimea did not contradict international law, and Eckhard Cordes, chairman of German industry’s lobby group on eastern Europe policy. Their appeal somewhat hysterically warns that current EU and American policy could lead to a future armed conflict with Russia unless the current “spiral of threats and counter-threats” is broken, while, amazingly, it fails to mention that an actual war in Europe is raging every day – Russia’s continued and well-documented military intervention in eastern Ukraine. Similarly, no attention is given to the other “frozen conflicts” on Russia’s borders. The acceptance of former eastern bloc countries into the EU and NATO, the result of years of negotiations, debate and attempts to include Russia in the western security architecture, is presented in the same light as the Kremlin’s armed occupation and illegal annexation of Crimea in March 2014 – both are “inexplicable” to the signees.

Days after the original appeal was published, over 100 German-speaking experts on eastern Europe, including numerous academics, political leaders, civil society activists and journalists, signed a reply organized by Andreas Umland, a professor at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation in Kyiv. The authors reaffirmed a shared interest in maintaining peace but made clear that the “territorial integrity of Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova cannot be sacrificed,” pleading that “German policy toward Eastern Europe should be based on past experience, factual knowledge, and careful analysis, and not on pathos, historical amnesia, and blanket judgments.” And unlike the letter from ‘Gazprom Gerd’ Schröder and his friends, the reply draws attention to the true victims of Russia’s war in the Donbas – not Russia itself, but the “thousands [of Ukrainians] killed, maimed, traumatized, or driven from their homes.” Several leading German-language publications, including Zeit Online and Der Tagesspiegel, have published the experts’ appeal. An English version can be accessed here at World Affairs.

Importantly, YOU can support the German experts’ call for peace and territorial integrity in eastern Europe by:

1. Adding your name to a petition supporting the appeal “Securing Peace Instead of Rewarding Expansion.”

2. Joining German-, Russian-, Ukrainian-, Polish-, Estonian-, and English-speaking interested citizens taking part in the petition’s Facebook event.

Securing Peace Instead of Rewarding Expansion

On December 5, 2014, 60 prominent German personalities from politics, business, and the cultural sphere published a joint appeal titled “Another War in Europe? Not in Our Name!” Although this open letter deals with Germany’s policies toward Russia and Ukraine, only few of the signees are currently involved in East European studies, or in journalistic reporting about Ukraine. To the contrary, most of those who signed the appeal have only limited expertise in the post-Soviet space, little relevant research experience, and apparently no deep knowledge of Ukraine or recent events there. This is no coincidence.

The overwhelming majority of German researchers, activists, and reporters who, from a scholarly, civic, or journalistic perspective, are observing the current conflict in Ukraine are united in their assessment: There is an obvious aggressor in this war, and there is a clearly identifiable victim. Just as other formerly occupied countries…

Read the letter in its entirety here at World Affairs.

  • Stefan Wegner

    I signed.

  • Kruton

    B.S.