Monday's Press Review

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This Monday Russian newspapers report on the international efforts in global crisis management and makes predictions about Barack Obama’s Cabinet and a possible new war in the Balkans.

ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA writes that the summit of 27 European states in Brussels, dedicated mostly to the formation of a unified European programme of crisis management to be offered to the Washington summit of the ‘Top 20’, managed to squeeze into its tight schedule one more issue: Russia – EU relations. The paper says that all the nations of ‘Old Europe’ present at the summit are ready to re-start negotiations with Russia on the next basic agreement on strategic cooperation while ‘new Europeans’ like Lithuania and Poland are flat against it and call any renewal of the talks ‘a tragedy.’ The paper quotes a European diplomat calling the phenomenon the ‘phantom pains’ of the Soviet Era and concludes that despite these ‘pains’ the negotiations may be re-launched by the end of this week at the Russia-EU summit in Genoa. The paper also says that the shifting of ‘New Europe’ towards Washington’s interests at the expense of European unity is causing growing concern in the EU.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA writes that Europe looked more divided than ever at the Brussels meeting over the crisis management plan it has suggested to the Washington summit of the ‘Top 20.’ It is clear, says the paper, that radical measures suggested by France were effectively blocked by Germany and the UK and that the position of the EU about urgent crisis management has lost a lot of teeth after Brussels. The paper says it has become, in fact, the sum of all compromises between the points of view of different European nations.

VREMIA NOVOSTEI writes that the summit in Brussels has shown how divided Europe is over the means to be used against the global crisis. The new European plan, continues the paper, cannot be revolutionary in any way, especially with the failure of Nicolas Sarkozy’s radical idea of reforming the world financial system. As a result, the European plan presumes the strengthening of the IMF and its role in the world.

Another piece of news about the Washington summit, this time from America, became a disappointment to many, says the paper. The U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is not going to take part in the Washington summit. Instead, the U.S. point of view will be presented by the Bush administration. The paper says it is already known to be offering even less decisive change to the global financial system.

It means, continues the paper, that there will be two ideas clashing in Washington: one, coming from the West, meaning Europe and the U.S., the idea that presumes the mildest possible change in the system and rejects global governance in any form. The other idea comes from the East and is represented by Brazil, Russia, India and China and is known as the BRIC Plan. The Eastern plan, says the paper, is much closer to the original ideas of Nicolas Sarkozy and goes much further than those ideas in its suggestion to remodel and restructure the whole world financial system, so it would be based on multiple centres of financial power and several organisations which would take over the role of a U.S.-dominated IMF.

IZVESTIA calls ‘logical’ the rumoured plan by the new U.S. administration to offer Robert Gates the chance to continue as the Secretary of Defense in its new Cabinet. The paper says, even if the plan for withdrawal from Iraq is implemented soon, there will be a period of transition in which it is better not to change the top figures. The very fact that America is in the middle of two wars going on simultaneously, calls for the same. The paper says Gates may become a Secretary of Defense who knows that he is only there for the transition period. So far, says the paper, Gates himself hasn’t said anything about the rumour, but he has said a lot about having no plans for staying in government service after the election.

KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA reports from Bosnia and Herzegovina: the strange country with the most intricate structure of government in the World (the paper says it’s a quote from a guide book) is a forced union of three ethnic groups united by three factors: unified passports, common currency and undying hate for each other.

The paper says the U.S. has created it as a time bomb for a united Europe, especially for the looming financial crisis, and left a fuse for this bomb: Kosovo’s independence. Now a lot of ethnic groups around Europe – including those in South Ossetia and Abkhazia – ask the European Union the most unpleasant question: if Kosovars can have independence why we can not?

The paper writes the intent of the U.S. in creating such an unnatural union is clear: the crisis in the U.S. financial and banking spheres may create conditions that would facilitate Europe’s transition into a separate centre of the World – financial and political. That, says the paper, is what the U.S. wants to prevent and avoid by any possible means. The most important among America’s tools in Europe is the eternal instability in the Balkans, created and maintained by the U.S.

If another war breaks out there, continues the paper, Europe will be busy quenching armed conflicts and preventing humanitarian catastrophe instead of uplifting its status in the world. Meanwhile America would gradually heal from the crisis and finally would be healthy enough to resume its position as the undisputed leader of the global community.

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT.