Tuesday’s press review

This Tuesday Russian newspapers seek the best formula for Russia-EU relations, ask questions about European aid to Georgia and publish expert opinions on the possibility of an armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine, ‘predicted’ by Western media.

IZVESTIAhas an opinion article by Konstantin Kosachev, the Chairman of the State Duma’s International Affairs Committee. He writes that the reaction of European politicians to the Georgia – South Ossetia conflict and Russia’s role in it was not unanimous from the beginning. For some politicians, the interests of trans-Atlantic solidarity are higher than the truth of actual events and their solution for the crisis is to accept Georgia into NATO as soon as possible, so in the future nobody would dare attack it. This position, writes Kosachev, which means throwing the bulk of NATO power and influence behind a U.S. satellite who started an armed conflict in Europe, is represented first of all by one of the leading European countries, the UK.

Quite a different approach was demonstrated by France in the form of its president Nicolas Sarkozy. He believes that to solve a conflict it is necessary to involve all sides in a political process, sit them together at the negotiation table, and work for the best solution. The author says that Sarkozy’s view of the conflict implies not isolation of Russia but a more active involvement in common European affairs. Russia’s interest is vested in peaceful cooperation above all, he says.

VREMYA NOVOSTEIhas an interview with Grzegosz Kolodko, a leading Polish economic expert and former Deputy Prime Minister of Poland. He says that Russia, with the help of other European powers, should find a decent and prominent place in the European family. He says that the isolation of Russia is counterproductive. Kolodko also notes that there are things that he does not like about the situation around Georgia: he thinks the armed conflict could have been prevented but neither side did enough to achieve that. He continues by saying that what Russia and Europe both need today is peace, more pragmatism in political relations, and more business interaction.

KOMMERSANT’s columnist and leading analyst of the St. Petersburg Centre for Middle Eastern Research, Aleksandr Sotnichenko, looks into the current situation in Turkey and says that a new era is opening in the centuries-old conflict between Turkey’s Islamists and those who want a secular state. He writes that the battles between the two camps are now being moved from the streets and the media into courtrooms.

When the secularist-influenced Constitutional Court initiated a case against the ruling Justice and Development Party, which allegedly breached the country’s constitution, the Islamist-rooted party responded through the government by initiating a criminal case against the ‘Ergenekon secret network’ which has allegedly been preparing a coup d’etat.

The author notes that while the ‘Islamist’ part of the Turkish political elite is supported by the majority of the population, big business and the international community, the secularists are represented first of all by the Turkish armed forces.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA writes about an international conference of donors ready to help restore Georgia’s national economy after the ‘Five Day War’. The conference is supported by the EU and will convene in Brussels on Wednesday. The paper says the Georgian delegation at the conference is convinced that the economic support promised to Georgia by European nations also means EU political support as well. The paper says that may be more of a personal belief on the part of the head of the delegation, Georgia’s foreign minister Yekaterina Tkeshelashvili.

MOSKOVSKI KOMSOMOLETS has an interview with the Head of Ukrainian Research of the Institute of the CIS Nations in Moscow, Kirill Frolov. He says the idea about a possible Russo-Ukrainian war released into circulation by some Western media outfits is part of a plan to put Russia into such a position where a heavy or light response to a Ukrainian provocation would be equally harmful to Russia’s interest. He says Russia has no plans to start a war with Ukraine.

He adds that no Ukrainian politician in his right mind will start a real war with Russia, especially over the region of Crimea and the bases of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. But, he says, an imitation of war would be enough for a figure like Yushchenko: one missile launch would have him on the phone talking to the Western leaders, blaming Russia, calling in the reservists, freezing all the plans for the dissolution of parliament – and  staying in power. Which is what all that is about in the first place.

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT.

Monday's Russian Press Review