Thursday, March 4, 2021

Ilves: Capturing the state never ends well

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Thousands of protesters have been detained in Russia in support of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. This wave of protests is one of the largest in the country in recent years. However, in addition to the events surrounding Navalny, we have seen many other political upheavals in the post-Soviet region, including protests in Belarus and the war in Karabakh. How will these events affect the future of the region, what impact will it have on the policies of President Biden’s administration, and how will they affect the geopolitical reality? VOA’s Ani Chkhikvadze talks to former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves about these issues. Ilves held the position from 2006-2016. Even before 1996-96 And from 1999-2002 he was the country’s foreign minister.

Last year was a year of excitement in the region. We saw the war in Karabakh, the protest in Armenia, the pro-Western candidate in Moldova won the election. However, so far, in recent years, we have seen many political upheavals: revolution in Armenia, demonstrations in Georgia. How recent are the recent years, so to speak, another period of color revolutions for the region?

Moldova and Belarus have shown that people are tired of standard post-Soviet rule characterized by undemocratic processes, mass corruption. However, it is hopeful, for example, that a pro-Western candidate will win the presidential election in Moldova.

As for Belarus, we have seen that Lukashenko’s opposition, which he has been suppressing for 27 years, manages to mobilize the people.

Moldova and Belarus have shown that people are tired of the standard post-Soviet rule.

We are seeing the birth of a nation and it is an exciting process. This is not a nationalist, anti-Russian process. But there we see the discovery of national identity, something that was suppressed during tsarism and then in the Soviet Union. I think this is an important process.

However, it is unfortunate, the weak response from the West, including from the government of my country …

Russia’s answer [ბელარუსში] Was not uniform. Initially, Lukashenko blamed Putin for the demonstrations. That later changed, and now Putin says he will help Lukashenko even with military force if necessary. What are Russia’s calculations in Belarus?

Their calculations are military and strategic. They do not want to lose Belarus. I do not think they will take a military step. They no longer have the resources to do so. However, they really want to manipulate politics there. Everyone analyzed that Lukashenko was over. Nor do the Russians want to deal with him anymore. The agreement made 25 years ago is no longer a single state. Russia does not want it either, but more importantly, the people of Belarus no longer want it.

We have to wait and see what eventually happens that will force Lukashenko to leave. But his departure will not be met with much resistance by Moscow. The most likely scenario would be to create false parties. Russians do it everywhere.

This year marks 30 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union. For 30 years, we have seen dissatisfaction with the status quo in the whole region, for example in the case of Karabakh, we see the same in Belarus. Are there common signs between these events or not?

It was the inevitable downfall of a regime that never recognized the cultural and political autonomy of its colonies.

The Baltic states are a special case, [საბჭოთა ოკუპაციამდე] Given their 20-year period of independence. Stalin wrote to Lenin in the early 1920s that countries that had their own flags and embassies abroad could not be admitted to the Soviet Union. And that was right. Experience of independence, high living conditions and international recognition set the Baltic states apart from the rest of the Soviet Union.

Other republics also had short periods of independence, such as Georgia, which had two years, but it was soon destroyed. We (Estonia) even had an embassy in Georgia during this period. However, the period of independence was short …

The reaction against oppression that we see is inevitable. Three generations lived in an empire based on Russian chauvinism, and despite claims to the contrary, we have not seen any national prosperity of this country, with Russian prominence. They stifled any cultural development that was perceived as nationalistic and a threat to the union.

State-sponsored killings are not the only case in Russia today

Therefore, the gravity of the empire, the demand for more freedom by its parts, and the economic collapse made its disintegration inevitable.

For the last 28-30 years, there has been talk in Russia that these people will fall back on their knees before them. This is part of the Kremlin’s arrogant attitude. From the side of the Kremlin, which lives in the 19th century, however, this does not mean that the 21st century is not deadly.

And on this very topic, what do you think was the purpose of Navalny poisoning?

In the West, this should not be considered as a separate case. State assassinations are not a single case in Russia today … They commit political assassinations outside Russia and in Europe, such as the case of Litvinenko, the assassination attempt on the Skripals, the assassination in Berlin and the attack on the Chechens in Sweden …

They behave like that. This is not much different from killing Trotsky with an ax.

We know from the cases of Estemirova and Politkovskaya that when killing people who cause discomfort, they do not have a guilty conscience …

Poisoning is not surprising. Surprisingly, Navalny survived.

This is not surprising. Surprisingly, Navalny survived.

And that was the result of this, the FSB representative also noted that the pilot took care of the passenger, put the plane on board, arrived there in an emergency, and then took him to Germany. It was a failed attempt. (Former Prime Minister) Chernomyrdin’s quote, “We wanted better, but it turned out as usual” also applies to the killings.

As for the United States, what will be Biden’s policy, should we expect a change in US foreign policy? What should Georgia expect?

Now several people are returning to the government who stand out with their expertise and knowledge towards the region. For example, Michael Carpenter. He is one of the loudest supporters in the region. ᲛHe served as Biden’s foreign policy adviser when the latter was vice president. I do not know what place he will be appointed to, but he will be in any position. He understands the region very well. Also, (Wik) Toria Nuland, the former Deputy Secretary of State, has strong positions towards Russia, China and Ukraine … so we know that the people who come to the leading positions know the region well, we know their positions well, and that is reassuring. .

My recommendation to post-Soviet countries would be to strengthen embassies in the United States as much as possible.

My recommendation to post-Soviet countries would be to strengthen embassies in the United States as much as possible.

Biden has been to Georgia twice during his career. The first time he was a senator, a few days after the war, the second time already – in the role of vice president, a year later. In 2009, Biden addressed the Georgian parliament and spoke about Georgia’s then-development problems. Some of the problems he spoke about then remain a problem in Georgia to this day, such as the opposition in the streets, undemocratic tendencies. The opposition does not recognize the election results there and has boycotted the parliament. We officially have a one-party parliament. The exception is a few people from the pro-Russian party. What effect does this have on Georgia’s perception of the West?

In the West, we are very tired of people committing atrocities against each other in these countries. The mood is this: Go back in five years when you sort things out. I think Georgia should be worried about this. Today your main allies are the Baltic countries and Poland …

In Western Europe, given Kovid, economic or other problems, this is no longer a critical issue. It no longer works when Georgian representatives come to these countries and say, Georgia is wonderful, we are good and the other side is bad. My advice would be to solve your problems and show that there is no unrest in the Caucasus.

Endless demonstrations on Rustaveli give people the feeling that the situation in Georgia is unstable and incomprehensible.

Now it’s true. ყველაზეGeorgia is the least, but it also really needs to move forward. Endless demonstrations on Rustaveli give people the feeling that the situation there is unstable and incomprehensible. So now we need to work together. When you solve the problems, you go back to the West, then you can already continue the fight.

The opposition, as I said, does not recognize the election results. Negotiations are underway between the opposition and the government over the issue of a one-party parliament and the calling of new elections, mediated by the United States and the European Union. In this situation, what would you say to the government and the opposition?

Richard Nixon quotes that politics has one rule: if you are in the back now, then you will be down. Republicans in America also understand the importance of this. If you are in the back and behave badly as the Republicans did, you will be held accountable. American policy in this regard is more different today than it was 25 years ago. This remains a problem in my country as well.

If you have democracy, you will not be in power at all

If you have democracy, you will not be in power at all. And that’s why smart governments often stop it from abusing power.

People in power should behave like adults. They must also act as adults in the opposition, and recognize if the people in government are taking inclusive steps to work together. But if those in power cross over to the opposition just because they have the power and can do it, then the result will not be good. This has happened in the US Senate for the last 6 years.

We are very far from America in terms of democratic development.

Yes, but as an example, so give me. If you abuse the government and put pressure on the opposition, you will be held accountable. And we saw that the Republicans lost the election, lost both chambers …

The US Ambassador to Georgia told the press at a briefing that Georgia is moving in a circle. The problems identified by Joe Biden remain: opposition in the streets, dispersal of anti-Russian demonstrations, the issue of legitimizing elections, and so on. Remains and does not change. What does this indicate and how should Georgia solve it?

The problem is often [პოლიტიკური] Seizure of the state by the elite is when the government is viewed as its own property.

We saw this in the Trump administration.

The problem is often the seizure of the state by the elite,

And it never ends well, Belarus is the best example of this. If Lukashenko ever loses power, he will not stay in Belarus. Not a single day can survive. When you overdo it, it never ends well.

Therefore, the elite must act and solve problems and analyze that at some point, it is necessary to give up power. There are many examples when the government takes responsibility and takes the necessary steps to move forward. For example – (Frederick de) Clerk in South Africa. არI do not compare South Africa with Georgia, but we need a great leader who will say that change is critical, it may lead to my defeat, but it is necessary for the country. After this step, you are already perceived as a state figure.

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Ilves: Capturing the state never ends well