Nr 74/75 • November 2009

A Case for Pragmatic Foreign Policy and the Pursuit of National Interests

There are quite a few countries in the world whose foreign policy is guided by obsessions, which are based on their historical memories. The Greeks are obsessed by the Turks, so are the Armenians. The Russians were obsessed by the Germans; now they are too much obsessed by America. The English and French reciprocal obsession today plays out mostly on the football or rugby pitch. They seem to have grown up. Our young country is very much obsessed with Russia. Is this obsession justified? Isn’t it time for us too to behave more like responsible adults? Aren’t our perceptions of Russia informed more by our historical memories than by current realities? Is the foreign policy guided by such perceptions in our national interest?

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The Courage to Think with Your Own Head

In 1939, when the situation seemed hopeless and there were only bad and worse options to choose from, the Finns acted on instinct and did what their hearts told them to do. In the end, this – together with their courage to make their own decisions – turned out to be the only rational strategy.

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Russia and the West: Playing by the Rules?

Ever since Mikhail Gorbachev made it to the top of the Soviet hierarchy in 1985, every change in leadership in Moscow has brought about an improvement in relations with the West. The presidency of Vladimir Putin was no exception: in spite of the negative impact of the recent Kosovo war and the conflict in Chechnya, Russia was able to achieve significant progress in its relations with the European Union, the United States, and even NATO. It is therefore understandable that the election of Dmitry Medvedev, regardless of how it was handled domestically, raised cautious hopes in the West about a possible fresh start after the ‘new Cold War’ of the previous months.

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