‘The only solution for the Ukrainian crisis is a negotiated solution’
On August 30 at the EU summit in Brussels Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk was elected as the new President of the Council, and Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini was appointed to become new EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs.
RT:Donald Tusk is known for his strong anti-Russian stance. What does that mean for the prospects of a rapprochement between Europe and Russia over the Ukraine crisis?
Anna Van Densky: It means that the current constellation, the choice of heads of institutions of the EU reflects the profound schism between the Eastern European countries and the old countries that are much more pragmatic in their approach towards Russia. They are not touched by these emotions, and the phantoms of the past. On Saturday during the press conference we could notice how difficult and almost irreconcilable were the reproaches of Italian candidate Mogherini and Donald Tusk towards Russia, because they have completely different approaches, completely different visions and completely different ways to approach the conflict.
First of all, I would like to say that it’s not about a formal balance because many commentators say that it is a balance of forces because Mogherini is seen very much as a tolerant candidate towards Russia, while Donald Tusk is seen as a tough man who will wrestle with President Putin. But it’s not about it, it’s about that this relationship should be functional, and unfortunately, it’s not, because the contradictions are so profound and there is no other way that the states will try to build bilateral relations with Russia. The more profound, more complicated the debate in Europe is, the less common vision is represented towards Russia, less chance is for the European Union to become a real player and fulfill its role or its ambition to become a savior of Ukraine. It means that Russia has to build up relations with the member-states bilaterally.
RT: There's to be a new EU foreign policy chief too. Federica Mogherini takes a softer line towards Russia over the Ukrainian conflict. How will the two leaders get along with their different views?
AD: First of all, it’s not the same thing. There is a lot of doubt about his capacities because he has always acted as a national politician, he is very knowledgeable about the situation in Poland, but even from the first press conference you see that he doesn’t speak English, he is very shaky about European issues because, for example, he never presented his view on Europe. So the point is to handle Europe with 500 million citizens and its immense diversity of regions, needs and interests, is something completely different than to manage Poland. I don’t think that his experience from the past can be automatically transmitted and projected to Europe. I think it is a great challenge and very few people understand why he was chosen because he is a man that never expressed his vision on Europe. We know he is a liberal politician but a liberal mentality is not a remedy against many diseases Europe suffers now, and of course there is this great concern that his tough stance on Russia will be counter-productive, because Mogherini clearly stated on August 30 that there is no military solution, there is only one solution for the Ukrainian crisis – a negotiated solution. Above it all, many old countries understand that language of sanctions is absolutely not admissible with Russia because Russia is, was, and will be, a strategic partner of Europe and there is no way out because that is geography and you can’t escape it. There is a lot of doubt of course about his capacity to be a successful leader of Europe in crisis, and Poland is not a member of the Euro group, so they have no euro, it is one more deficiency he has.
RT:Tusk has never really shown any particular ambition for the top job in Brussels, so why do you think Britain and Germany are so supportive of him?
AD: We can’t speak about Great Britain as a whole because there are many political forces in Great Britain who dislike him and there is the whole debate about his capacity to lead, and first of all, he doesn’t speak English, then there was a whole debate about money paid to children in Poland whose parents were working in Great Britain. There were many reasons that they were unhappy with him. You can’t say that all British people like him. So there are some political forces in Great Britain who have a good relationship with him, that’s all. I don’t think there is this solid relationship or solid alliance between Germany, Poland and Great Britain over Donald Tusk.
The situation is very changeable because every day Europe suffers damage and that was a summer time; let’s not forget that parliaments didn’t express themselves on sanctions. Now people come back from holidays, parliaments will start working and there will be a real debate on what the sanctions are, or if there is any sense of having sanctions, because they are so damaging to Europe itself. There is also the other issue above it that trade unions also come back from holidays and they also have to say their word, so the situation is very changeable, and let’s hope that common sense will win and there will be no further sanctions ever, that all political forces will come to negotiate at table and find a reasonable solution for Ukrainian crisis.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.