During the Cleveland debate with Hillary Clinton on 27th February, Obama was asked by Tim Russert the NBC journalist the following question about Medvedev, the prospective new Russian President –
RUSSERT: He’s 42 years old, he’s a former law professor. He is Mr. Putin’s campaign manager. He is going to be the new president of Russia. And if he says to the Russian troops, you know what, why don’t you go help Serbia retake Kosovo, what does President Obama do?
OBAMA: Well, I think that we work with the international community that has also recognized Kosovo, and state that that’s unacceptable. But, fortunately, we have a strong international structure anchored in NATO to deal with this issue.
We don’t have to work in isolation. And this is an area where I think that the Clinton administration deserves a lot of credit, is, you know, the way in which they put together a coalition that has functioned.
OBAMA: It has not been perfect, but it saved lives. And we created a situation in which not only Kosovo, but other parts of the former Yugoslavia at least have the potential to over time build democracies and enter into the broader European community.
But, you know, be very clear: We have recognized the country of Kosovo as an independent, sovereign nation, as has Great Britain and many other countries in the region. And I think that that carries with it, then, certain obligations to ensure that they are not invaded.
The key to Obama’s reply was that the international community supports Kosovan independence. He uses the actual words –
….the international community… has recognised Kosovo.
Directly relevant to this, Jeremic, the Serbian foreign minister wrote the following in the International Herald Tribune on the same day –
On Feb. 17, the Serbian province of Kosovo, which has been under United Nations administration since 1999, unilaterally declared independence from my country.
This illegal act has, unfortunately, been recognized by the Bush administration and some European countries including Britain, France and Germany. Others in Europe – including Greece, Romania and Spain – have withheld recognition, as have most other leading global and regional players, including Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Israel, Russia and South Africa.
As things stand, the number of countries that will recognize an independent Kosovo will plateau at around 40, leaving it unrecognized by a vast majority of the close to 200 members of the United Nations.
Full article HERE
It looks as if Barack Obama is wrong about the US having the support of the international community, as Jeremic points out.
In fact, if that is to be the basis on which US foreign policy will be decided under Obama, then the US will soon be siding with Russia and Serbia, and not the EU.
Is it really worth falling out with Russia and offending the international community again, as the US has done over Iraq? Kosovo will soon be an area where Obama could make political headway against the Republicans as he is doing over Iraq. He should start by looking carefully at exactly where the rest of the world stands on Kosovo. He might be in for a surprise judging by his rhetoric.
UPDATE – Al Jazeera English Version quotes Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov who seems not to want to be in conflict with the US – in these terms –
Hillary Clinton, a leading contender to succeed Bush, stumbled for Medvedev’s name in Tuesday’s presidential debate before coming up with, “Medvedev – whatever”.
Nevertheless, she said Medvedev was someone “who Putin can control, who has very little independence, the best we know”.
Relations between the US and Russia have become strained recently over a number of issues including missile defence.
HEADING – Open and ‘constructive’
Lavrov told Al Jazeera that Russia has always been open and “constructive” about its foreign policy intentions and that “many of these problems [with the US] seem to us artificial.”
“There is not necessarily a misunderstanding [of Russia], but an inertia of the cold war logic which was to a large extent based on containing Russia,” Lavrov said.
“None of Russia foreign policy is designed to combat US. Of course the US is the dominant player in world affairs, it’s an objective fact.
“But at the same time recent history has shown, in Afghanistan, in the Middle East that no one power can resolve regional and international problems on its own, whatever powers it possesses.”
Full Al Jazeera article – HERE
Is there a message here? Would Russia be hinting at an alliance to help the USA in the Middle East and Afghanistan? Such an alliance would greatly assist NATO which is getting overstretched, especially with French and German unwillingness to fight. Russia hardly wants a Taleban victory on her Southern border, encouraging any of her Moslem satellites into a confident hostile posture.
Of course the US would have to meet Russian foreign policy objectives, such as reaching a negotiated settlement over Kosovo.
Obama had better get up to speed if his policy of negotiating with difficult regimes is to start bearing fruit. With the passing of Bush, there could be some very interesting deals to be done.
McCain is unlikely to find a rapprochement with Russia. This from Reuters –
REPUBLICAN SEN. JOHN MCCAIN:
The Arizona senator, long critical of Putin, had harsh words for the Russian leader on February 15.
“I think that Mr. Putin is trying to restore the old Russian empire. Obviously he is perpetuating himself in power in Russia virtually indefinitely by this setup of having basically a protege, someone who is doing his bidding as president while he serves as the prime minister,” McCain said.
“We knew the puppet show was going on, we just didn’t know who the puppet was.”
Obama, this is surely your opportunity to move relations with Russia onto a better footing. Reuters full article HERE