Expert disputes Gorbachev's warning of a new Cold War

German professor says repeat of post-WWII relations between East and West unlikely but years are needed to rebuild trust

Expert disputes Gorbachev's warning of a new Cold War

A prominent German foreign policy expert has disputed former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s warning of a new Cold War, but acknowledged that it will take years to rebuild collapsed trust between the West and Russia.

Professor Volker Perthes' comments came on Friday a week after Gorbachev warned Western countries on the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall that the "the world is on the brink of a new Cold War".

Perthes, director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, told Anadolu Agency: "I think Gorbachev is right on two-thirds of what he said.  But I do not think that we will see a repeat of the Cold War as we had it.

"The ongoing conflict in Ukraine is less international and less global than the Cold War."

Gorbachev accused Western leaders of a "collapse of trust" between the West and Russia and listed the enlargement of NATO, U.S.-led operations in Iraq and Libya, and developments in Syria as examples of what has undermined the trust built during the early 1990s.

'Trust broken'

“I think Gorbachev was right in his analysis that the trust has been broken. And it will be very difficult to rebuild it,” Perthes said.

“Recently we heard the German Foreign Minister (Frank-Walter) Steinmeier saying that it may take a 'fourtnight' to trigger a conflict, but it may take 14 years to rebuild trust. This is exactly where we are.”

Relations between the West and Russia have been strained recently over the conflict in Ukraine and Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Perthes said there has been been mistakes on the part of the Western world which had triggered the developments. 

“Of course, in international politics, no one is without mistakes. And I think that the EU particularly underestimated the mood in Moscow with regard to Europe’s Eastern Partnership policies,” Perthes said.

“The EU underestimated how much the President of Russia, Mr. Putin, actually would have seen the successful democratic transformation of Ukraine or the Europeanization of Ukraine as a threat to his own state and regime,” he added. 

'Two weak'

Perthes  also said that, during the 1990s, Western countries neglected Russia's concerns. 

He said: "In the period of Boris Yeltsin, when most of the NATO expansion took place, Russia was seen as very, very weak. I guess Gorbachev may have a point here."

"At that time, Russia was seen as being too weak by the U.S. to be considered a serious negotiation partner whose interests had to be taken into consideration," he added.

But Perthes said that, following recent international developments, dialog between the West and Russia should continue. 

"In order to rebuild trust we should continue talking, implement agreements which have been concluded - like the Minsk protocol - and also continue our cooperation in international affairs, like finding a peaceful solution to the Iran nuclear crisis," he said.

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Last Mod: 14 Kasım 2014, 16:42
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