Summary of the Speeches
Vladimir Ajzenhamer – From the moment Russia recognized Donetsk and Luhansk as independent republics, the Gulf states have reacted differently to this crisis. We can group them into three camps – hedgers or fence-sitters (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Iran), emotionally driven countries (Kuwait and partly Iraq) and regional bandwagoners (Bahrain and Oman). When it comes to the war in Ukraine, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates show full understanding and empathy for Ukraine, but still refuse to take part in sanctions against Russia and do not want to increase oil and gas production which would help curb the skyrocketing market prices and provide Europe with alternative sources of oil and gas supply. They have chosen the hedging strategy – a strategy of sending mixed signals to US and Russia, with the aim of letting both Washington and Moscow know that Gulf countries remain their partners, but will not choose a side. That’s why Riyadh and Abu Dhabi are trying to appear as US and NATO’s most reliable allies in the Gulf region, but on the other hand, desperately want to avoid severing its growing ties with Moscow in the spheres of investment, infrastructure and tourism.
John Field – The political will was to continue doing business with Russia. In fact, the architect of Germany’s SPD’s international policy, Egon Bahr, once told some schoolchildren that ‘International politics is never about democracy and human rights. It’s about the interest of states. Remember that, no matter what you are told in history lessons.’ I would not disagree with the statement as it is clearly true when one looks at the world of international diplomacy. I would, however, profoundly disagree that we should continue to accept this as a way to behave. Maybe this should set the basis for a way forward, not our self interests but human rights and the value of the individual – in other words, Be kind to one another.
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