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Any help possible for Syria and Ukraine in crisis?

  • February 3rd, 2014
  • Posted by EU Australia

Munich security 2Events in the real world gave force and focus to the 2014 European Security Conference winding up at Munich this Tuesday.

Russian and Western leaders invoked Cold War days, matching wills over the crises in Syria and Ukraine; the cautious progress over Iran’s nuclear program was reviewed.


Munich Security ConferenceThe American Secretary of State, John Kerry, kicked at Ukraine’s staggering President, the Soviet-era come-back man, Viktor Yanukovch, over his subverting of a possible association of Ukraine with the European Union. See EUAustralia Online, Ukraine crisis, Russia and the EU, 19.12.13.

That, and the current stand-off with angry crowds of protestors, was a denial of his people’s right to associate with partners who would “help them realise their ambitions”, to have a “democratic, European future.”

Lavrov sergei“What does incitement of increasingly violent street protests have to do with promoting democracy?” said his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov (picture).

Kiev 2014 3Russian actions — with one eye on keeping Ukraine within the ex-Soviet “sphere of influence” — had set in train the events of the bitter Winter in Kiev; beginning with a hardening of restrictions on imports from Ukraine, moving on to the inducements of financial credits and access to cheaper petroleum supplies.

Kiev demonstration 2013 Kiev protest 2014The demonstrations backed by opposition parties in Kiev and other cities of Ukraine have been as hard minded and determined as the government / Russian side. To date they have rejected all gestures of compromise, including an offer to form a ministry under  Yanukovch’s presidency.

Kiev 2014 5The man has stood down on sick leave; the paralysis of state and economy, and mobs of angry citizens out in the freezing cold, look like a reverberation of the end of the Eastern bloc in 1989.

Foreign Minister Lavrov has employed the cat-calling of the time; opponents of the regime, for opposing it much like a tribe in arms, would have to be hooligans. See EUAustralia Online, Russia’s amnesty for Greenpeace crew …, 19.12.13.


Similar lines of argument, and quality of thought have prevailed in the debate over Syria.

Mr Lavrov, and President Vladimir Putin behind him, have pointed to the foreign terrorist groups in the ranks of the Syrian opposition.

That, to counter criticism from the USA and EU over wholesale destruction and killing unleashed by the “national” army in that fractured state.

The estimated dead are at 110000; more than six million people, nearly a third of the population are in foreign refugee camps; the World Food Program says up to 6.5-million people inside the state borders may be “food insecure”.

Outside of the alignments of Middle East politics, one major interest, the communist government in China, has felt some impulse to back the Damascus regime; evidently a notion of  supporting an established party in power, when the situation turns unstable.

UN GenevaCoinciding with the gathering in Munich, talks sponsored by the United Nations at Montreux and then Geneva, since 22.1.14, saw the warring parties in the Syrian civil war end proceedings as they began, with mutual invective and recriminations.


Set up to advance an earlier agreement, which envisaged a transitional authority with executive powers to govern the country, it made scant progress along those lines.

Some agreement was made on local ceasefires to begin importation  of humanitarian aid, though that was frustrated early by continuing fighting on the ground in Syria. UN conveners said it was significant that they had been able to get the warring parties together in the one room, to hear out each other’s statements. They hoped to see a further attempt, possible even this month.

That conference was attended by representatives of 39 national states (taking in the UN Security Council members) and the Holy See, plus the EU, Arab League and OCI (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation).


The European Security Conference at Munich is an independent gathering, first convened in 1962, which this time drew in  much the same crowd as in Switzerland: the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, senior government figures from the EU, the United States and Russia, and the Middle East, as well as authorities drawn fromn business, scholarship and banking.

It heard reports on the expected incremental moves by Iran, which will see a contraction of its nuclear development program, and the lifting of financial or economic restrictions or sanctions against that country by the United States and Europe. See EUAustralia Online, EU stand-off with Iran …, (25.1.12).

The European High Representative, Catherine Ashton, said on the weekend at Munich she would be convening  further discussions on the plan, at Vienna on 18.2.14, involving Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.


BBC, London, Ukraine unrest: EU and US clash with Russia in Munich, 1.2.14.,(2.2.14).
—  Syria crisis: Geneva peace talks end in recriminations, 31.1.14.\,(2.2.14).

Deutsche Welle, Bonn, Ukraine divides world powers at Munich Security Conference, 2.2.14.,(1.2.14).
Anna McIntosh, Six powers, Iran to begin new nuclear talks on February 18, Reuters, London, 1.2.14., (2.2.14).

UN News Centre, NY, Geneva conference on Syria set for January, UN chief announces, 25.11.13.,%20when%20you%20empower%20a%20woman,%20you%20change%20the%20world%3C/span%3Ettp://, (3.2.14).

US Department of State, Washington, Secretary Kerry: Remarks at Munich Security Conference, 1.2.14., (2.2.14).

Pictures wikipedia