Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s recent talk at the Koerber Foundation in Berlin was a useful chance to get Russia’s point of view across to German politicians and journalists, political commentator Alexander Rahr told Sputnik.
On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov addressed an audience of German political figures and scholars at the Koerber Foundation, where he gave a speech outlining Russia’s views on a range of foreign policy issues, and answered questions.
Political analyst Alexander Rahr, director of the German-Russian Forum, told Sputnik Deutschland that the exchange was an important opportunity for dialogue.
“For me, it was important that Lavrov had the opportunity to talk about the Russian narrative of events for over an hour. The Russian point of view is often rejected by the West as propaganda but today, from my point of view, we managed to enter into a dialogue. There is no other way of moving forward. Today we are facing some huge unresolved problems, which we are procrastinating about [solving]. We must find a common solution for Syria. We also need a common European security structure. We need to try to integrate Russia into these processes,” Rahr said.
Well-known German political figures such as former Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, Die Linke politician Hans Modrow, who was the final Prime Minister of East Germany, former German ambassador to the UN Gunter Pleuger and others attended the talk.
German diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger, who now heads the Munich Security Conference, was also in attendance. He recently gave an interview to the Russian newspaper Kommersant in which he described Russia’s foreign policy as a “disaster.”
“I see Mr. Wolfgang Ischinger in the audience. I recently read his interview with a Russian newspaper in which he said that Russia’s foreign policy was a disaster. I wonder how he would describe the policy of those who have implemented the greater Middle East scenario in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen. Would he describe it as a triumph?” Lavrov answered the criticism.
The Russian Foreign Minister also took the opportunity to explain Russia’s goals with regard to Syria, Ukraine and other foreign policy issues. He also answered questions regarding allegations of persecution of gay men in Chechnya and other internal issues.
Lavrov criticized the US and its allies for post-Cold War politics which preferred to “declare themselves the sole winners, refusing to work together to create the architecture of equal and indivisible security.”
“They made their choice in favor of shifting the dividing lines to our borders – through expanding NATO and then through the implementation of the EU’s Eastern Partnership program. Moreover, they blatantly presented their ‘eastern partners’ with the dilemma of choosing either Russia or the West. There are many examples of that. The Ukrainian crisis, which was to a large extent provoked externally, became a direct consequence of this short-sighted policy of Washington and Brussels,” Lavrov said.
However, the Russian Foreign Minister stressed that Russia is always willing to enter into dialogue to build better relations and to explain its foreign policy ambitions.
“Those who know Russians will understand that it not in our nature to take offense or hold a grudge against anyone. If and when the EU sees the need to return to normal relations with Russia, we will return the favor and will promote cooperation at such a rate and to such an extent as our partners will be ready to match. But I think we will keep a ‘safety net’ against possible new relapses in confrontation.”
“As a character in a famous film said, ‘Nobody’s perfect.’ But at least we are willing to honestly explain why we are taking this or that foreign policy action. We have nothing to hide. I would be grateful if your analysts explained the noble objectives of the invasion of Iraq or Libya. Personally, I do not see any noble objective in those,” Lavrov concluded his talk.
Lavrov had traveled to Germany for the closing ceremony of the the Russian-German Year of Youth Exchange, an initiative to encourage contact between young people in Russia and Germany. The scheme began in 2004 with a bilateral agreement between the two governments and enables around 6,000 meetings between 17,000 participants each year.