Swiss professor on air at Azeri.Today
European bureau of Azeri.Today
Azeri.Today interviews Andre Liebich, Swiss political scientist, historian, honorary professor of the Geneva Institute of International Studies and Development.
- President Vladimir Putin described Russia's relations with the United States as the worst since the Cold War. What is happening today in the relations between the two countries? What was the sharp reason for the deterioration in relations between countries after Trump came to power?
- The United States has long seen itself as “number 1,” “the indispensable power,” as Madeleine Albright put it but it now has the sneaking feeling that it is falling behind. Some parts of the world are still subservient but American power has proven unable to deal with the world’s many crises. It is in this context that it has latched on to a familiar enemy: Russia. It would make more sense to identify others as the main enemy, for example, China or ISIS. But the American elite is more comfortable with russophobia. Many top policy makers and intellectuals grew up with the Soviet Union as their main bogeybear. Moreover, Russia under Putin has attempted to put itself at the head of an anti-hegemonic, ie, anti American, movement, thus giving grist to US fears and nightmares. Finally, unlike China which is a major economic partner for the US or ISIS which is fighting America’s enemy, Syria, there is little economic or political cost for the US in denouncing Russia.
As for deterioration of relations after Trump’s accession to power, in part this lies in disappointment over hopes, stoked by Trump during the election campaign, that relations would improve. In part, this lies in Trump’s efforts to distance himself from his critics. Finally, Russia shares in the world’s bewilderment at the behavior of the American president.
- NATO continues to expand to the East. Montenegro joined the North Atlantic alliance. Why do Americans need this? Whom is NATO going to fight against?
- NATO is like a bicycle, to maintain one’s balance one has to keep on pedaling. After the fall of the Soviet Union, NATO searched desperately for a role. Afghanistan has proven complicated. Russophobia is much more of a winning card. It has pushed East European states, traditionally afraid of Russia, into NATO’s arms and it has kept Western Europe subservient. Ironically, NATO eastward expansion began before Russia was construed as a danger in Washington but, along the lines of a self-fulfilling prophecy, NATO now positions itself as Europe’s protector against Russia.
- In your opinion, will Russia be able to restore its former influence in Eastern Europe under Trump?
- No, Russia will never re-acquire the influence it possessed in Eastern Europe. It has tried to assert influence by economic means, for example, a strong Russian presence in Eastern Europe’s banking sector and by energy dependency. As Russia has discovered in Montenegro this is not sufficient to turn Eastern Europe around into Russian satellites. Even Russia’s hold over former Soviet republics is endangered as they seek countervailing support in China (Central Asia) or in the West (Ukraine, Georgia).
- How do you see the future of the European Union without the UK? Should we expect the EU to expand to the East?
- Brexit has dealt a terrible blow to the EU’s morale and self-esteem. It may be a blessing after all, as it is the UK that has prevented many EU initiatives, notably in the field of defence, that would bring EU member states closer together.
EU expansion towards the East has resulted in expansion fatigue and concrete headaches with openly unruly members such as Poland and Hungary and “basket cases” such as Romania and Bulgaria. There is little appetite for further eastward expansion. As for the eastern neighbourhood policy that was to be an alternative to membership and, tacitly, an assertion of the EU’s imperial ambitions, it has proven to be such a disaster, notably in the case of Ukraine, that it does not have much of a future.
- The last question. We ask this question to all experts. What do you know about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? How do you see the solution to this problem?
- The theoretically perfect solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict would be to keep the area under Azerbaijan’s sovereignty while offering it the maximum degree of internal autonomy. The degree of mistrust is such, however, that this solution is seen with suspicion by both sides. Azeris are afraid of creating a state within a state, moreover, a hostile internal entity. Armenians believe that only full sovereignty would protect them from Azeri ingerence and efforts to reduce their autonomy. Would Azeri refugees return home in the event of such a solution? They would require special guarantees which the Armenians would refuse to give. And this would be only the beginning of problems…
Если вы нашли ошибку в тексте, выделите ее мышью и нажмите Ctrl+Enter