Wednesday’s press review

Condoleezza Rice (Chris Hondros /Getty Images / AFP)
This Wednesday Russian newspapers describe yesterday’s diplomatic miracle in New York, look into the U.S.-British disagreement over Afghanistan, quote Lech Walesa on the current Polish government and analyze the Western angle in the politics of Georgia an

ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA writes that Condoleezza Rice’s smile together with her verbally expressed gratitude to Russia for co-authoring the latest UN Security Council resolution on the Middle East was received as an unprecedented diplomatic miracle after months of tough rhetoric addressed to Moscow which had caused analysts to start talking of a new Cold War. The paper says the resolution became an example of how strong the song becomes if the singing is done together by Russia and the U.S. There could have been many more songs like this one, concludes the paper, if Washington had paid heed to Moscow’s opinion that international politics is not about emotions but common sense and calculation.

VREMYA NOVOSTEI says about the same event that the only cause for surprise about the last-in-the-year UN Security Council resolution on the Middle East, which in other senses was a usual UN document dismissed by its critics as ‘toothless,’ was the fact that it was jointly authored by the U.S. and Russia, and that Condoleezza Rice behaved in an unusual way. The paper says, after her words of gratitude towards Russia ‘we even started feeling slightly sorry that the current Secretary of State is leaving her office in January.’ The document itself, says the paper, is, in fact, quite useful for the peace process in the Middle East: it confirms the unanimous opinion of the four international mediators and is a good stepping stone for further work in this format; it also supports the idea of arranging the next meeting of the two sides of the conflict together with the mediators in 2009 in Moscow.

IZVESTIA publishes an exclusive interview with the famous ‘Man of Iron,’ the former president of Poland Lech Walesa who says in response to the question about the recent Polish government-sponsored accusations that he allegedly worked for the People’s Republic of Poland’s security services when he was the leader of the independent trade union ‘Solidarity’: ‘The people who are in power in nowadays Poland are populists and demagogues, they cannot achieve any success in anything they are doing, so instead of strengthening the economy they want to publicly harm someone else.’

takes the reader on a detailed tour of the background of Nino Burdjanadze, one of the current leaders of the Georgian opposition and a possible replacement of Mikhail Saakashvili as president. The paper traces her origins as a daughter of an old Communist Party functionary and personal friend of Eduard Shevardnadze who after the collapse of the Soviet Union evolved into the ‘bread and wheat king of Georgia’ by monopolizing the bread industry during the Georgian war of the early 1990s. The paper quotes a Georgian politician who says: ‘The most dangerous people for Georgia at the moment are not the nationalists but the children of the first secretaries of provincial and city Communist Party members of the Soviet Union who have passed through the hands of George Soros.’

Nino Burdjanadze is one of them, says the paper, and she has shown a lot of political shrewdness in the past few years, first learning from Shevardnadze then turning her back on her teacher, then staunchly defending Saakashvili in 2007 only to leave politics for a while and return as his strongest critic after his aggression against South Ossetia. Today, however, says the paper, in spite of Burdjanadze’s tough rhetoric addressed to the current president, the response from the government media is not tough in any way. Maybe, says the paper, Saakashvili who is ‘running around and beating his wings like a beheaded chicken trying to prove that he is still alive,’ in fact is preparing himself and his supporters for a smooth transfer of power to Burdjanadze who has all the markings of the next president of Georgia pre-selected by Washington, awaiting orders to make the final move.

KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA writes that the next Russia-U.S. chess game in the Caucasus is going to be played out in Azerbaijan. The paper says that Baku, bathing, like Moscow, in oil income, isn’t as heavily involved with the world’s stock markets, so its perspectives for the financial crisis are somewhat brighter. However the country has found itself inside a knot of political and economic interests of three major powers: its neighbours Russia and Iran, and the United States.

The paper says the latest shifts in geopolitical meaning of whole regions of the world have made Azerbaijan’s claim to being a European nation quite reasonable. It quotes a well-known author of spy fiction, Chingiz Abdullaev, as saying that his nation’s constant balancing act between the West and the East is a dangerous but necessary policy. He says: ‘We have to act like a choosy bride. Azerbaijan is not only the key to the Caspian but to the whole of Southern Caucasus, and to the East as well – to Iran and Iraq. Who owns Baku, owns the region.’

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT