I refuse to say that Russia is repeatedly experiencing failures within CIS. The role of the United States has to be properly understood in the “colored” revolutions. The picture is contradictory. First it is said that that the Americans like Chevarnadze, Akayev and Kuchma. Shortly thereafter, our political scientists said they have been overthrown by the Americans. It is not just like that. When they see that their pupil is having difficulties, they establish links with the opposition. By acting like this, they ensure that future developments take place according to their expectations and prevent anyone from taking power. We are too honest in these matters and such naivety in the political arena does not lead to good results. We believe that having relations with the opposition would be a breach of the agreement that unite us with the associates to power. I hope that our policy changes.
It is not entirely accurate to say that the Americans set up the uprising in Andizhan. The Americans do not consider that Karimov is finished. Since April, they have been interested in the contacts with different Islamic radical organizations. The fact is that without contacts with the moderates it is impossible to beat the radical terrorist movements. I do not think, however, that they are making the right decision by contacting, for example, the Muslim Brothers. I think this organization is sympathetic with al-Qaeda and also recommends taking power through unconstitutional means. This will have an impact on the rest of the countries and would facilitate violence against some organizations which are not considered terrorists. We should not forget that still it takes a lot to put an end to the fight against the Talibans. Neither it is accurate to exclusively accuse Karimov in this story. The economic situation has been always difficult in Fergana valley and the Islamic extremism is very strong. Today, the extremists are the only choice for the acting President. To go against them is to leave the room free for them. We have to prevent international terrorism from operating according to the communicating vessels. After the difficulties faced in Afghanistan, they found a new parade ground in Iraq. It is very important that the terrorists do not settle down in Central Asia.
Ukraine has ascertained to join Europe due to tactical reasons with regard to Russia. If the accession issue is put forward, it would be inevitable then the opposition between two parts of the country. It would not be violent, but this is well understood in Kiev. Yeltsin and the presidents of all NATO countries signed an agreement in Paris under which it is impossible to place nuclear weapons in the new member countries or place in such countries troops from old members. It was known in the West that there was a red line that should not be outflanked since we would be obliged then to adopt measures that might lead to confrontation. This line is that of the former USSR republics which were not accepted within NATO. It is not written anywhere but Christopher and Albright knew it very well and are very careful about excluding publicly the eventual accession of those countries to NATO, but they have assured otherwise. Ukraine accession to NATO is against our interests but if the alliance becomes more political and less military, our relation with the organization could improve.
Ukraine and other countries, which consider that becoming NATO members is just a prelude to the accession to the EU, should learn the lessons of the failure of the referendum. One of those reasons was the fear over an endless expansion and its economic impact. Previously, most of the countries in Europe were economically strong but more fragile countries became members and the old ones began to wonder if it was beneficial to feed them. The most important thing for those countries, like Ukraine and Georgia, is to understand that it is advisable to develop ties with Europe, but not to the detriment of the relations with Russia. Ukraine proposed to Russia a free trade area, but Russia strives for a free trade area and later a single economic entity. We should be aware that if this process is interrupted in the first stage, there will be huge losses for us.
It is very important to unite with Belarus; to get separated would be a big geopolitical mistake for Russia. I think it is possible to deal with Lukachenko. Currently, the average pension for retirement is higher in Belarus than in Russia, and this is under isolating conditions with regard to the West! The people support their president regardless of what it is said and I think the country will never direct itself towards the West.
The withdrawal of Russian bases from Georgia does not affect our interests; the strategic interest of those bases was insignificant. I believe the Americans will not establish any base there, and no clues in this regard have been detected. The relations with Russia would be severely affected. We have never refused to recognize the territorial integrity of Georgia. Georgia and Abkhazia should exclude from their constitutions everything that contradicts the agreement of January 1st, 1999, which never got to be signed, but recognized the existence of Abkhazia within the Republic of Georgia, which is in fact the recognition of the territorial integrity of Georgia. The opening of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline truly affected our national interests. For the moment, there is enough oil for both pipelines, this one and Novorosisk. The BTC was built for political reasons since it is cheaper to transport crude oil through Novorosisk. The construction of the Burgas-Alexandropolis oil pipeline is not the equivalent answer, but still it is an answer. There will not be an orange revolution in Kazakhstan, the people are living well. In Azerbaijan, the Americans have already started to look for the replacement of Aliev. It is truly a pity; he is the Head of a powerful and competent State. I have read that the Americans have given 43 million dollars for democracy in Russia. It is nonsense. It is not the government’s fault if the SPS is not represented in the assembly; the people were not happy about them. It would take a lot of time for a real civilized market to exist in Russia. In all cases, the future of the country should be linked to the center right wing, not right wing. The government is not obliged to control the production means but it has to be actively involved in the economy. The investments only meet the interests in a short term. There are no long term investments. The government should be criticized for that since it lacks of a policy in this regard.
Gazeta SNG (Russia)
Gazeta SNG is an online news daily in Russian language.
“Мы слишком, утрированно честны... Надеюсь, теперь наша политика будет другой”, by Evgueni Primakov, Gazeta SNG, June 21, 2005. Text adapted from an interview.