August 12, 2008

English Summary

The March issue of Diplomaatia is dedicated to Russia for the simple reason that presidential elections were recently held there, as a result of which the transition of the present Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to the post of the head of state is now formalised.

The March issue of Diplomaatia is dedicated to Russia for the simple reason that presidential elections were recently held there, as a result of which the transition of the present Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to the post of the head of state is now formalised.

English Summary

The March issue of Diplomaatia is dedicated to Russia for the simple reason that presidential elections were recently held there, as a result of which the transition of the present Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to the post of the head of state is now formalised.
At the moment, everybody is seeking answers to the questions whether President Medvedev will change Russia and exactly what he will change, to what extent and in which way. In the opening article of Diplomaatia, Moscow Bureau Editor of the BBC Russian Service Konstantin Eggert writes: “Mr. Medvedev himself gave just a few reasons to see him as something more than someone who will keep the Kremlin seat warm for Mr. Putin until 2012, when, under the terms of the Russian Constitution, the latter could return for another two terms in the presidential office. (—) In a speech in Krasnoyarsk, an important industrial city in Siberia, the candidate made his ringing call for ‘freedom’ which, in his words, is ‘always better than the lack of it’. The word ‘freedom’ has hardly been ever used by Russia’s mainstream politicians since the early 1990s, when it became synonymous with social deprivation, a privatisation process that favoured a few over millions and other ills of a transitional society.”
According to Eggert, there are optimists who claim that “this man is unlikely to continue the hard line policies of Mr. Putin and is bound to start dismantling his legacy. They base their assumptions on Russia’s political tradition, which has always favoured one strong leader, be it the tsar, general secretary of the party or the president. It is inconceivable, the argument goes, that having assumed the nearly monarchical powers of the presidency, Mr. Medvedev will continue to behave as Mr. Putin’s subordinate.”
On the other hand, “the pro-Kremlin political analysts say that it is all irrelevant. ‘Putin knows Medvedev long enough to trust him not to upstage him,’ says Vitaly Ivanov from the Centre for Current Politics. ‘Putin’s popularity is very strong and his authority in the ruling class is unshakeable. Medvedev knows it all too well. These two are friends and comrades in arms, so they know what they are doing’.”
Editor of the magazine Russia in Global Affairs Fyodor Lukyanov analyses the tasks Russian foreign policy makers are facing. “The tasks Medvedev has to deal with differ objectively from those of Putin. The potential of pursuing foreign policy the way Putin did it has been exhausted. It was his achievement that other countries started to listen to Russia and consider it an important factor in international affairs. Now, minor details have to be concentrated on: it is a matter of capitalising on the success already gained and preventing all the opposing forces from teaming up against Moscow. You must think flexibly in order to accomplish this task; brutal force will not do the trick,” writes Lukyanov.
According to Lukyanov, Putin’s foreign policy has been robust, but occasionally not constructive enough. “Having revealed that the world is not perfect, the time has come for Russia to submit concrete proposals. A state who wants to achieve a leading position in the world is expected to have a strategic vision and to offer multiple solutions to all kinds of problems, not to display journalistic fireworks,” claims Lukyanov.
“Extensive and professional discussions must be held concerning Russian foreign policy priorities in the up-coming years, because the cost of an incorrect analysis is too high. However, preferring propaganda, be it loyal or oppositional, to discussions would be plainly dangerous,” states Lukyanov. He defines four tasks that Russian foreign policy makers will have to undertake. First, Russia’s aspirations to play a new role in the world must be supported by a solid system of permanent relations with its allies and, second, by diplomacy. Third, Russia must establish a new framework for relations with the European Union and, fourth, it must formulate a concrete and balanced policy towards Asia.
MP Marko Mihkelson traces Russia’s development in recent years. “Putin’s period in power is often characterised as a ‘rebirth’ of Russia. It is a widely held view that Russia managed to emerge from the chaos of the 1990s as a state who can assert itself both at home and abroad. Actually, there is nothing wrong with such a view. Indeed, Russia has returned, but, as the analyst Lilya Shevtsova has said, it has returned to the past,” states Mihkelson.
Mihkelson claims that the existing ruling elite will not be able to change Russia’s communication style and nostalgia for a system of power that inevitably leads to a dead end: “Russia will need new leaders and ideas to transform its destiny, if it ever happens.”
Director of Research and Publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy Paul A. Goble examines the relations of Estonia and international law. “No country has been more affected by the evolution of international law over the last century than Estonia, and no country has had a more profound impact on how international law evolved over the same period. But despite this intertwining of Estonia and international law, few Estonians and few specialists on international law acknowledge this important reality, the first because they know relatively little about international law and the latter because they know relatively little about Estonia,” claims Goble.
Diplomat Maris Tippo shares her memories of the time she spent working as a novice consul at the Estonian Consulate General in New York, taking the place of those who had safeguarded Estonia’s independence all through the period of occupation.
In the book review section, Mart Laar and Erkki Bahovski review books on the history of the Baltic states and imperial powers.

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