Wednesday’s press review

Mikhail Gorbachev (AFP Photo / Marcel Van Hoorn)
This Wednesday, Russian newspapers report from the NATO summit in Brussels, hail the end of a stagnation period in Russia-EU relations, look into the possibilities of the bankruptcy of the U.S. economy by February next year, and publish quotes from an unp

ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA writes that, even before Tuesday’s Foreign Ministers session at NATO, it was clear that Ukraine and Georgia were not going to get a fast track passage into the alliance. The paper says no NATO member nation objected to accepting the two countries into NATO, however none were ready to do it in the near future. The paper says a proposal, by Britain, to concentrate on cooperation within the framework of the NATO-Georgia and NATO-Ukraine bilateral commissions, and use them as stepping stones for the two nations to join the alliance, was opposed by at least six NATO member states.

VREMYA NOVOSTEI writes that the ‘action plan’ formula for Ukraine and Georgia’s membership of NATO was not taken off the agenda, but postponed indefinitely. The paper continues that both countries will have to go through a year-long ‘national program’ to improve their militaries and adjust their economies and governance standards to those required for NATO membership.

The paper also says that NATO has decided to gradually resume its dialogue with Russia. Russia’s new Chief military representative General Alexey Maslov has already left for Brussels. The paper quotes a source at the Defence Ministry of Russia saying that the General will concentrate his efforts on cooperation in such fields as countering terrorism and illicit drug trafficking, and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction. The daily also says that the conflict over South Ossetia and Abkhazia has, on the one hand, complicated relations between Russia and NATO, but on the other hand it created, as a side effect, an understanding among the Western nations that Georgia and Ukraine are not yet ready to become NATO members.

The same paper writes that the ‘period of stagnation’ in Russia-EU relations has passed. It reports from the same city of Brussels where the delegations of the EU and Russia have re-opened the negotiations on the new basic agreement. The paper quotes the Russian EU envoy Vladimir Chizhov: ‘I do not expect these negotiations to be easy and fast, but the very fact that they resumed is adding to our optimism.’

The paper says that ‘among the Europeans there exists a permanent understanding that Russia is a factor of immense importance in Europe, and it is necessary to negotiate with Russia instead of freezing relations with it.’

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA publishes an article by Alexander Stubb, the current Chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and Minister of Foreign Relations of Finland. He writes that the Spirit of Helsinki born in this city 33 years ago, when the first Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe gathered here, is still alive, and that it will help the representatives of 56 member states in their joint effort to solve the problems that the European countries have to face today.

The Minister writes that OSCE is the biggest regional organization in the world that is entirely committed to matters of international security and calls the organization ‘the cornerstone of European security, laid in Helsinki 33 years ago.’

The same paper reports on a sensational U- turn by the Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko who unexpectedly decided to develop closer relations with Russia. His supporters, says the paper, insist now that all the anti-Russian rhetoric of the past weeks and months was caused by the actions of ‘some Ukrainian politicians who deal in political speculation instead of doing real work.’ The paper says the president called Russia Ukraine’s main trading partner, a partner whose opinion it is necessary to take into consideration. The paper hints that a rumoured political alliance allegedly struck overnight by president Yushchenko’s party and the opposition Party of the Regions may be the reason for such an abrupt change of policy.

IZVESTIA writes that an insistent rumour of a possible default on U.S. government obligations has been lately circulating on the internet. That, writes the paper, as well as the feared massive U.S. dollar emission, will certainly produce a ruinous effect on the world economy, if one of the two, or both, happen in the real world. The paper continues to say that there are even rumours of a new currency, the Amero, that the U.S. is going to introduce instead of the dollar in February, 2009.

The paper quotes experts, such as Ruslan Grinberg of the Institute of Economics, Russian Academy of Sciences, who says: ‘Default on the state debt, new currency – that is all fantasy, nothing else.’ However some experts, says the paper, think that the U.S. is at the moment busy brewing some unusual solutions for the crisis, maybe even such solutions that would help America emerge from the crisis with minimum loss of assets – at the expense of the rest of the world. Elena Matrosova of the Centre of Macroeconomic Research, the BDO UNICON Company, is quoted as saying: ‘The U.S.-created financial system is sick. To take advantage of the whole world the U.S. doesn’t need to default. Devaluation of the dollar would suffice: that would cause the U.S. national debt to shrink and would simultaneously diminish the value of currency reserves of many countries.’

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT