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Russian public relations policy towards constant reassurance and apology for the past.

This kind of comment is likely to draw us into a debate about the relative evil inflicted by empires from East to West. Do you really want to go there?

by vladimir on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 06:54:36 AM EST
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I think Marek is speaking about what would be required to placate Poles and so on without necessarily commenting on how justifiable their beliefs are in the current situation.

It seems that there is a strong thread of "Run, run, the Russkies are coming!" in the border states and that judgement  is unaffected by the belief that the Russians have better things to do and bigger problems to deal with than invading Poland.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 07:08:37 AM EST
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The Poles, Czechs, Serbs, Slavs in general were systematically exterminated during WWII by the German - Austrian killing machine.

The Germans are not only coming... in fact, they're already back (albeit in a somewhat different outfit) to many of the places they left back in 1945.

Is anyone advocating that the Germans - Austrians repeatedly communicate regret and apology to these nations... Is that because the 'people' of central Europe have no fear or is it because the local media and governing 'elites' are supportive of renewed German economic and political influence in their countries?

by vladimir on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 07:51:56 AM EST
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Not saying it's justified, sane or fair. Just saying that it's there. I agree it's a problem.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 08:02:15 AM EST
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After the German atrocities came the Red Army invasion and the installation of Communist regimes, political repression and things like the invasion of Hungary and the Prague Spring.

Very roughly, if you're 30 years old you remember "shock therapy". If you're 60 years old you remember the Soviet satellite regimes. You have to be 90 years old to remember the Nazis. Of course, the Polish Twins were happy to annoy both Germany and Russia, and in the Czech Republic apart from a President whose only political message is "<insert thing Klaus dislikes> is like Communism" they have an ongoing controversy over the Beneš decrees which are perceived to be a symbolic bulwark against the German "return" you talk about.

In addition, Germany did engage in a fair amount of soul-searching in the 1960's. Perestroika might have led to Russia doing the same about now, except that the result of Perestroika was that the USSR imploded instead, followed by "shock therapy" and a nationalistic backlash.

So while I think the Russian bogeyman is ridiculous, I can understand where the sentiment comes from and how sociologically Marek may well be totally correct that a more cooperative relationship between the enlarged EU and Russia "simply isn't going to happen" "in the short term".

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 08:41:13 AM EST
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Read Marek's comment again.
(NATO's triple purpose: Keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.)

The reason the EU can't replace the NATO is exactly the point that people in eastern Europe fear a dominance of Germany, if the biggest ally in their military alliance would be Germany.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 11:40:47 AM EST
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Polish nationalists could react to good EU-Russia relations by raising the spectre of the Partition of Poland (among Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia) to great effect.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 11:45:16 AM EST
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Molotov-Ribbentrop might be more relevant in living memory. Yalta even more so.

I doubt anyone in Poland seriously considers partition a possibility. But a certain lack of consistency from the Allies during WWII might still rankle among those old enough to remember the aftermath.

Not that the UK and US were ever likely to declare war on Russia immediately after. It was considered as an option, but rejected for obvious reasons.

But there's a case to be made for mismanagement of the invasion in 1944, which added another 6-12 months to the war and allowed the Soviet incursion into Europe to push far to the West of where it might have reached otherwise.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 01:17:51 PM EST
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The Poles, Czechs, Serbs, Slavs in general were systematically exterminated during WWII by the German - Austrian killing machine.

And the Poles by the Soviet one.

Is anyone advocating that the Germans - Austrians repeatedly communicate regret and apology to these nations

The Germans do, and have been doing so for a good several decades now. And guess what, it's worked.

by MarekNYC on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 12:19:00 PM EST
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Yet at the same time they're back to their old mischief. Arming and financing Croatian (extreme right... not to say fascist or Nazi) nationalists, arming and financing Bosnian extremists (ex Handzar Division SS Allies), arming and financing Albanian extremists in Kosovo (ex Nazi Allies).

Financing Ukrainian extremist nationalists? Anyone?

But at least they're repentant. I am much relieved.

by vladimir on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 12:37:58 PM EST
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That should be  "It seems to me that there is a strong thread"
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 08:01:04 AM EST
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