Massenbach-Letter. NEWS 13.10.17

Massenbach-Letter. News

  • “Rethinking Europe”- Cardinal Marx announces European Bishops‘ Conference about „Rethinking Europe“ by Pope Francis –
  • GPF: What Russia’s Middle East Strategy Is Really About
  • The Chimera of Franco-German Reform
  • Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute’s 15th Anniversary Rhodes Forum 2017
  • Dominique Villepin: Multilateralism -The Antidote to Uncertainty (Speech at the DOC Rhodes Forum, on 6 October 2017)
  • DOC_Annual Report (zip)
  • Augengeradeaus: Sicherheit in Mali: Schlechte Noten von den UN
  • The dangers of populism

From our Russian News Desk. (The views expressed are the author‘s own.)

  • What Should the Gulf Crises Teach Us?
  • Qatar Сrisis: What’s Next?
  • Alexey Malashenko:The Lessons of Islamic State / Kurdistan / Rosneft
  • Russian–Saudi Relations Entering New Phase
  • Wars in the Name of Islam: What Comes Next?
  • Russia Reduces 204 Nuclear Deployed Warheads between March and September 2017
  • The Euro-Atlantic Security Formula: The Implications of NATO-Russia Relations to the Baltic Sea Region
  • Andrey Kortunov: Hybrid Cooperation: A New Model for Russia-EU Relations
  • Ivan Timofeev: Russia and NATO: A Paradoxical Crisis
  • Think-Tanks Do the Things Diplomats Cannot Do
  • The Price of Peace: The Parameters of a Possible Compromise in Donbass
  • The “Kurdish project” in Syria can be defined by three main characteristics
  • ISIS’ Extra-territorial Countermeasures Against Declining Activity
  • How is Natural Gas Driving Politics in the Middle East?

Massenbach*The Chimera of Franco-German Reform

Oct 4, 2017 In the past month, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and French President Emmanuel Macron have both unveiled ambitious visions for Europe’s future.

But both leaders‘ reform agendas will require the buy-in of a German electorate that is moving in the opposite direction … In his State of the Union address, Juncker boldly outlined his ambitious vision for Europe’s future … Macron, in a speech at the Sorbonne, touched on issues ranging from defense and security to eurozone reform and Europe’s political divides … both speeches were clearly intended to frame the political debate now underway in Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is trying to form a new coalition government.

Many observers had hoped that Germany’s recent federal election would open a “window of opportunity” for EU-level reforms. But it is now starting to look like that window has already closed …

The fate of any EU agenda – whether Juncker’s or Macron’s – rests with Merkel, who is unlikely to make any significant political moves … leaves the Free Democrats (FDP), who are liberal in a European sense, but also frustrated with the eurozone’s malaise.

Giving voice to German “transfer fatigue”, the FDP is adamantly opposed to any arrangement that transfers German money to underperforming member states … And besides, some deputies in the CDU, and many in its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, are sympathetic to the FDP’s positions. The third likely member in Merkel’s new coalition, the Greens, would hardly be able to counterbalance these internal forces …

To join in Macron’s European project, she [Merkel] would have to assume an entirely new role and expose herself to substantial political risks.

Germany would have to take the initiative: rather than rejecting proposals, it would have to offer its own. Such behavior can hardly be expected from a government that, beholden to the median German voter, plays it safe.

The German political center has been shifting, and it is heading in a different direction than Juncker and Macron. As a result, the eurozone’s institutional design will likely remain incomplete.


From our Russian News Desk. (The views expressed are the author‘s own.)

  • What Should the Gulf Crises Teach Us?
  • Qatar Сrisis: What’s Next?
  • Alexey Malashenko:The Lessons of Islamic State / Kurdistan / Rosneft
  • Russian–Saudi Relations Entering New Phase
  • Wars in the Name of Islam: What Comes Next?
  • Russia Reduces 204 Nuclear Deployed Warheads between March and September 2017
  • The Euro-Atlantic Security Formula: The Implications of NATO-Russia Relations to the Baltic Sea Region
  • Andrey Kortunov: Hybrid Cooperation: A New Model for Russia-EU Relations
  • Ivan Timofeev: Russia and NATO: A Paradoxical Crisis
  • Think-Tanks Do the Things Diplomats Cannot Do
  • The Price of Peace: The Parameters of a Possible Compromise in Donbass
  • The “Kurdish project” in Syria can be defined by three main characteristics
  • ISIS’ Extra-territorial Countermeasures Against Declining Activity
  • How is Natural Gas Driving Politics in the Middle East?
  • See attachment


Kardinal Marx spricht beim St. Michael-Jahresempfang in Berlin (10 Oct 2017) –

  • Cardinal Marx announces European Bishops‘ Conference about „Rethinking Europe“ by Pope Francis –

„Die Freiheit aushalten“

St. Michael-Jahresempfang in Berlin (v.l.n.r.): Kardinal Reinhard Marx, Vorsitzender der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz, Bundespräsident Frank-Walter Steinmeier und Prälat Dr. Karl Küsten, der Leiter des Katholischen Büros in Berlin. © KNA

Der Vorsitzende der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz, Kardinal Reinhard Marx, hat dazu aufgerufen, Gesellschaft aktiv zu gestalten und nicht nur nostalgisch in die Vergangenheit zu blicken. Das sagte Kardinal Marx aus Anlass des St. Michael-Jahresempfangs gestern Abend (10. Oktober 2017) in Berlin.

Die Vertreter der Politik forderte er auf, Europas Einigung voranzubringen und die Flüchtlings- und Migrationspolitik weiter auch humanitär auszurichten. Ein Einwanderungsgesetz könne eine Lösung sein, aber nicht nach der Regel, dass man die Schlauesten nach Deutschland hole und die Armen alleine lasse.

Mit Blick auf aktuelle politische und gesellschaftliche Fragen erinnerte Kardinal Marx an die Enzyklika Laudato siʼ von Papst Franziskus. Der Appell, das ganze Haus der Schöpfung zu sehen und damit verantwortlich umzugehen, sei auch ein Auftrag an die Politik. „Wir dürfen die möglichen Verlierer der ökologischen Kosten der Globalisierung nicht aus dem Auge verlieren. Das Haus der Schöpfung ist dieser Planet. Für den tragen wir Verantwortung, auch für kommende Generationen.“


Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* – The dangers of populism –

  • for the energy sector –

by Nick Butler, FT.

Populism is on the march. The shift away from factual, rational analysis was evident in 2016 in the Brexit referendum and the US presidential election.

A new study from the Legatum Institute shows it is still running strong. The focus of the work is on the UK but there are obvious signs – from the German elections to the dangerous situation in Poland and Hungary – that the populist tide is flowing in many places across the developed world. For businesses accustomed to a world based on facts and hard evidence combined with the rule of law this is deeply uncomfortable. For the companies in sectors such as energy which can easily be targeted by populists it is particularly worrying.

The Legatum study identifies a shift in opinion against the open market economy which we have not seen for several decades.

The study demonstrates that the private sector is regarded with contempt and seen as exploitative of both employees and consumers.

The three words most associated with the private sector are selfish, corrupt and greedy. Profit is a dirty word, almost as dirty as the word global. People want controls on top pay and higher corporate taxes.

The desire for nationalisation of water supplies, the railways and energy companies is strong and not limited to those on the left.

Of those surveyed 76 per cent want the railways renationalised; 77 per cent want the state to take over the electricity business. These views come from the political right as well as the traditional left.

Of course the behaviour of some parts of the private sector has created and reinforced these attitudes. Ridiculous pay awards for top management – embarrassing even to the recipients; the systematic minimisation of tax payments by highly successful companies; the abuse of corporate power in negotiations with government over issues such as the contracts for new nuclear are just some of the most obvious recent examples of what has gone wrong.

These examples may be exceptions but they are very easily seen as the norm. The public reaction may be ill informed and misdirected but it cannot be ignored.

If companies fail to understand the problem they risk being overtaken by a wave which populist politicians will happily ride.

The question is what the bulk of companies can do to demonstrate that they are not greedy or exploitative. The energy sector is a reasonable place to start. The sector is full of companies which are large in scale, global, highly profitable (at least in terms of the absolute numbers), very well paid, capital rather than labour intensive, and apparently unaccountable to anyone.

Because the number of companies engaged in any particular activity is small there is an inevitable suspicion of collusion and oligopoly. In short however unfair the caricatures may be, companies operating in the sector are an easy target. Anyone who doubts that should talk to the electricity retailers who are now threatened with a new set of price controls to end “rip off pricing”.

Two initial steps are necessary. First companies have to accept that they are part of society, and that they operate at the pleasure of those they serve. Those who ignore that reality and believe they can simply maximise their own profits at the expense of the wider community are liable to be badly caught out.

Many companies half accept this line of thinking. They set standards of care and behaviour for themselves but in the new climate they will have to go further.

Those who define productivity gains, for instance, simply in terms of cutting jobs will have to begin to take on responsibility for those whose jobs are lost. The development of supply chains and an active engagement in support of the whole community in which they operate is likely to become the new and more substantive definition of the rather tired and empty dialogue around “corporate social responsibility”.

The second step concerns governance. In all the recent cases of corporate failure the missing element has been the role of boards of directors. Ryanair, Bell Pottinger, Volkswagen and all the others have well paid non executive directors but they did nothing to prevent their companies getting into trouble.

The problem is not unique to those companies. In most businesses directors have no contact whatsoever with consumers or employees and in many cases only minimal contact with shareholders. The traditional governance system is broken. To restore trust and to counter the wave of populism something better is necessary.

In the energy business boards should include genuinely independent members who understand the context in which companies are operating and the impact of their decisions.

Some companies have applied this approach – creating independent groups of local citizens and specialists to advise on operations in particularly sensitive areas. That approach should now be extended across the whole span of corporate operations.

Such groups should serve as a source of advice – warning against risks which might not otherwise be noticed, and as a source of support against irrational attacks. Many companies I am sure are simply hoping that they can keep quiet, try to avoid mistakes and visibility, and hunker down until the tide of populism passes. That is too complacent.

Populism is very dangerous and requires a systematic organised response.

****************************************************************************************************************** Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat* Augengeradeaus: Sicherheit in Mali: Schlechte Noten von den UN

Die Vereinten Nationen beklagen einen Verfall der Sicherheit in Mali, Einsatzort ihres größten Blauhelm-Einsatzes, an dem auch die Bundeswehr beteiligt ist. In einem Bericht für den UN-Sicherheitsrat von Ende September, der inzwischen auf der Webseite der Vereinten Nationen veröffentlicht wurde, wird vor allem der Norden des westafrikanischen Landes als Problembereich genannt, in dem die Umsetzung des Friedensabkommens mit verschiedenen bewaffneten Gruppen von Rückschlägen geprägt sei. Die UN-Mission MINUSMA werde wie die malischen Streitkräfte zunehmend Ziel von Anschlägen – und unter der verschlechterten Sicherheitslage leide vor allem die Zivilbevölkerung.

Auszüge aus dem Sicherheits-Kapitel des Berichts:

The security situation significantly deteriorated. Since mid-July, the situation in Kidal has worsened, with armed clashes between CMA and the Platform as both groups vied for control of Kidal. Meanwhile, asymmetric attacks continued against MINUSMA and international forces, notably in the Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu regions. Attacks against the Malian defence and security forces almost doubled as compared with the previous reporting period.

Violence spiked even more during the reporting period. Violent extremist groups and terrorist elements conducted 75 attacks (44 against Malian defence and security forces, 21 against MINUSMA and 10 against Barkhane), as compared with 37 attacks in the previous reporting period (23 against Malian defence and security forces, 11 against MINUSMA and 3 against Barkhane). These figures represent an increase of 102.7 per cent for all attacks. Casualty figures also increased, with 15 MINUSMA and MINUSMA-related personnel deaths (6 peacekeepers, 1 civilian personnel member and 8 contractors), another 34 injured (25 peacekeepers, 2 civilian personnel and 7 contractors). In the previous reporting period, four peacekeepers were killed and five injured. Similarly, 39 members of the Malian defence and security forces were killed and another 44 were wounded, compared with 33 killed and 54 injured in the previous reporting period. As regards international forces, no French soldiers were killed, while 17 were injured, compared with 2 injured during the previous reporting period.

Most asymmetric attacks were claimed by the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims. Meanwhile, the violent extremist splinter group, Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, which is currently operating in the Mali-Niger border area, seemed to be exploiting existing inter-community tensions.

On 1 June, a mortar attack against the bases of MINUSMA and the French armed forces in Timbuktu city, resulted in the death of one peacekeeper and the wounding of three Malian and eight French peacekeepers, as well as damage inside the camp. The attack was the fourth such attack in Timbuktu in four weeks. On 8 June, assailants launched 15 mortar shells at the MINUSMA camp in Kidal town, and killed four and wounded five peacekeepers in an attack on a Mission position in the city. On 18 June, 5 people died and 10 were wounded in an attack on a hotel near Bamako. On 14 August, armed assailants attacked a MINUSMA camp in Douentza, Mopti region. One peacekeeper and one member of the Malian armed forces were killed, while another peacekeeper was injured. On the same day, unidentified armed men attacked the MINUSMA headquarters in Timbuktu city. Four assailants infiltrated the compound, before being killed. Five security guards, one national contractor and one Malian gendarme died in the attack, and another six MINUSMA peacekeepers were wounded. (…)

The deteriorating security situation in Mali further negatively impacted the dire humanitarian situation. Given the limited presence of State authority and the lack of sustainable development gains in central and northern Mali, humanitarian needs persisted.

Der Bericht liefert auch einige Zahlen für die Statistik. Aussagen zu Personal und Fähigkeiten:

The force level of 13,289 military personnel comprises 40 military observers, 486 staff officers and 12,763 contingent personnel. As at 11 September, 11,273 personnel, or 85 per cent of the authorized strength, had been deployed. Women account for 2.2 per cent of military personnel. (…)

While little progress was made on force generation, important steps were taken in preparation for the deployment of key assets to improve the force’s mobility, intervention and deterrence capabilities. The advance party of the quick reaction force arrived in Mopti on 10 August, while the main body and helicopter detachment are scheduled to deploy later this year. A construction party arrived in Gao in June to begin the camp construction which would accommodate one combat convoy company, with works scheduled to be completed in October.

The deployment of at least two other combat convoy companies is planned for October and December. Progress was made in generating pledges for an explosive ordnance disposal company, a special forces company, airfield support units and armed and military utility helicopter units. The lack of armoured personnel carriers remained a major obstacle to the Mission’s operations; meanwhile some troop-contributing countries made progress in reducing their shortages. MINUSMA continues to require an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance company for Kidal.

Insufficient contingent-owned equipment and the self-sustainment capabilities of some infantry units also remain a concern. The lack of air assets compromised the Mission’s response across its area of responsibility, including in support of its protection of civilians mandate. Only three out of seven helicopter units, or six out of nine attack helicopters and four out of fourteen medium utility helicopters, are deployed or operational. The medium utility helicopter unit deployed to Kidal, which was damaged in the attack of October 2016, was unable to resume operations and is scheduled to be repatriated by the beginning of October. The military fixed-wing air transport unit based in Gao, which was damaged in the attack of November 2016, was unable to resume operations and will be repatriated. MINUSMA has deployed commercial air transport resources to address the support requirements in each location. Regrettably, the Mission lost an attack helicopter and its crew members during a crash on 26 July.

Aus dem letzten Teil ist recht klar erkennbar, was die Vereinten Nationen für ihren Mali-Einsatz für dringend geboten halten: Eine Aufstockung des Personals insgesamt – und mehr Kampfeinheiten, neben den ebenfalls knappen Aufklärungsmitteln. Alle MINUSMA-Truppen, und damit auch die Bundeswehr, dürften sich auf, sagen wir mal eine robustere Situation in Mali einstellen müssen.


Middle East

What Russia’s Middle East Strategy Is Really About –

Oct. 11, 2017 Moscow’s policy isn’t about becoming a leader in the region but accumulating influence to use closer to home.

By Xander Snyder

A new balance of power is solidifying in Syria. Iran, Turkey and Russia have all played a role in the conflict there – jockeying for position and even agreeing in September to set up zones of control. But Russia in particular has deftly managed the game up to this point, and it is emerging from the Syrian civil war with a strong hand.

Ultimately, Russia’s goal is to parlay its position in the Middle East into advantages in areas that matter more to Moscow. To some degree, it has achieved this, but it’s still unclear whether its strategy will be successful enough to score Russia an advantage in the area it cares about the most: Ukraine.

Russia intervened in Syria for two reasons: to gain enough clout in the region that the U.S. would offer some concessions in negotiations elsewhere in exchange for cooperation in Syria, and to show its public that Russia is still a strong power.

Russia’s support for Bashar Assad was instrumental in preventing the regime’s demise. Now, the Islamic State is in retreat, and some version of the Syrian regime, led by Assad, will remain in power. Russia’s role in this outcome gives the Kremlin influence with the Assad regime. The regime’s biggest challenge now is eliminating what remains of the Sunni insurgency, including groups like Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which took control of much of Idlib province from the Turkish proxy Ahrar al-Sham in July.

Turkish soldiers stand during a demonstration in support of the Turkish army’s Idlib operation near the Turkey-Syria border on Oct. 10, 2017.

Over the past week, we’ve seen two seemingly anomalous events that are part of a strategy to eliminate the Sunni insurgency.

First, King Salman of Saudi Arabia visited Moscow and signed multibillion-dollar energy deals with Russia that will involve both Russian investment in Saudi Arabia and Saudi investment in Russia. Then, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham – a group that the Saudis have been accused of backing and that, as of a few months ago, was an enemy of one of Turkey’s proxy groups – reportedly escorted Turkish officers into Idlib as Turkish reconnaissance forces surveyed the territory in preparation for a greater deployment of forces.

Both these events indicate that the Saudis may be willing to work with Russia in Syria by applying pressure on radical Sunni insurgent groups. In exchange, the Saudis will get some much-needed financial help in the form of investment deals. They will also get reassurance that Iranian influence in Syria will be limited. Turkey’s deployment in Idlib is one way of achieving this.

Russia needed to isolate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in Idlib so that Turkey could establish control of the territory as part of the de-escalation agreement that Russia, Turkey and Iran reached in September. Idlib, which is close to the Turkish border as well as Aleppo and Latakia – two key provinces for the Syrian government – is not the only territory still held by rebels, but it is the last major rebel bastion. Russia is hoping that investment deals like the one it made last week will compel the Saudis to put more pressure on the group. The Saudi regime hasn’t directly funded Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, but it has looked the other way as individual Saudis gave it financial support.

Russia is cooperating with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey to gain ground in the region in the short term, even though its interests don’t align with these countries’ interests in the long term.

Moscow is, therefore, establishing a balance that lets Russia play one country off the other so that no single power gains too much influence in the region.

Turkey has historically been a potential threat to Russia because Ankara controls the Bosporus, a narrow passage that, if blocked, would obstruct Moscow’s access to the Mediterranean. Iran is less dangerous to Moscow, but Russia still wants to limit Tehran’s influence in the Caucasus and prevent it from gaining too much control in Syria. Russia will thus work with both countries to make sure that they can counterbalance each other. An additional benefit of working with Turkey is that it can help isolate the remaining radical Sunni groups and prevent any interference from Saudi Arabia.

Russia’s strategy in the Middle East is to stay closer to all other players in the region than they are to one another. Russia, however, is pursuing this strategy not because it wants to be a major leader in the Middle East, but because it wants to accumulate as much influence as possible. This would allow it to offer to cooperate with the U.S. in the Middle East in exchange for concessions elsewhere. If the U.S. declines this offer, Russia will have at least made the situation more difficult for the U.S. and kept it bogged down and distracted. Russia’s main priority is Ukraine, and it perceives U.S. involvement there over the past several years as a threat. Moscow hopes that, as long as the U.S. is focused on the Middle East, it will be more willing to budge on the Ukraine issue.

Signs that a short-term alignment is emerging between Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia plays into Russia’s strategy.

All three of these countries have an interest in cooperating to a degree in Syria. Turkey needs to expand into Syria to eliminate radical Sunni insurgent threats on its border, to check Iran’s power in Syria and to keep the Syrian Kurds weak in the north. Iran wants to further limit the threat of Sunni groups in Syria and consolidate its power in Syria and Iraq. And Saudi Arabia has a financial incentive to cooperate, as it needs all the money it can get.

For Russia, however, its main focus is not in the Middle East but in Ukraine. It has so far seen success in one part of its Middle East strategy – gaining influence in an area the U.S. cares deeply about – but it remains to be seen whether this will translate into concessions on Ukraine.


*Massenbach’s Recommendation*

Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute’s 15th Anniversary Rhodes Forum 2017,

A special dedication to Dominique de Villepin, former PM of France.

About the Forum:

06 October 2017, Rhodes, Greece – DOC Research Institute (“DOC”, or the “Institute”), an independent international think tank headquartered in Berlin, announces that the 15th Anniversary Rhodes Forum 2017 “Multipolarity and Dialogue in Regional and Global Developments: Imagining Possible Futures.”
This event, traditionally a centrepiece in the DOC year, brings together leading experts from government, business, and academia to discuss pressing global issues. It runs from 06-07 October 2017.

This year’s Rhodes Forum is pleased to welcome a number of high-profile figures from Africa, including the Honourable Goodluck Jonathan, President of Nigeria 2010-2015, and Dioncounda Traoré, President of Mali 2012-2013. They will be joined on the opening panel by Dominique de Villepin, Prime Minister of France 2005-2007, Natalia Kaspersky, head of the InfoWatch Group of companies, and by Ian Goldin, Professor of Globalization and Development, Oxford University, former Vice President of the World Bank.
First convened in 2003, the Rhodes Forum brings together concerned members of the international political, business, civil society and academic communities in a spirit of dialogue and inclusivity. Every year, hundreds of participants from more than 70 countries explore the major challenges facing the world and seek concrete, applicable solutions rooted in shared values of equality, mutual respect and compassion.
Taking as its theme “Multipolarity and Dialogue in Regional and Global Developments: Imagining Possible Futures”, this year’s 15th Anniversary Rhodes Forum also hosts two focal events: a Summit on Globalisation, Dialogue, and the Future of Democracy; and a Summit on Global Infrastructure Development Scenarios.

Panel discussions on the first day include the ‘Impact of New Technologies and Digitalisation on Society’, ‘Social Mobility and Migration: Through the Prism of Values and Cultures’, and ‘Never Again: Demands for a New Global Security Architecture’.
On the second day, discussions will include a session on ‘Alternative Economic Models – Curbing Inequality’, and the focus on migration will continue in the form of a practice-based discussion ‘Europe’s Refugee Crisis: Crisis Response from Rhetoric to Reality’.—-

Mr. Dioncounda Traoré, President of Mali 2012-2013

Le terrorisme au Mali: une affaire de tous

L’ancien président du Mali Dioncounda Traoré a prononcé ce discours au Forum de Rhodes le 6 octobre 2017

« …. Mais les djihadistes, maîtres du nord du Mali et fort de leurs conquêtes faciles ne tardèrent pas à décider d’occuper tout le Mali avant de semer la terreur dans la sous région, en Afrique, en Europe et dans le reste du monde.

Leur cible, c’est la démocratie, c’est la civilisation que nous avons en partage ; la liberté à laquelle nous sommes attachés, l’Etat comme nous le voyons, le respect des droits de l’homme.

Leur projet, n’est pas celui de mettre en relief l’islam des lumières, l’islam d’amour et de solidarité, mais un islam des ténèbres, l’islam « takfiriste » qui est celui de l’égarement contre l’islam « tanwiriste », celui de la rédemption.
L’ambition satanique de ces illuminés qui se tuent en tuant, c’est de détruire nos normes et nos valeurs parce que pour eux l’impasse et l’absurde sont le salut….°

(Comment UvM : Are these politicians part of a solution ? What are German soldiers fighting for? )


Dominique de Villepin, PM France 2005

Multilateralism: the Antidote to Uncertainty

Dominique de Villepin delivered this speech at the DOC Rhodes Forum, on 6 October 2017.

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Dear Friends,

Let me first tell you how pleased I am to be here with you today, and I would like to warmly thank Vladimir Yakunin for his invitation to this edition of the Dialogue of Civilizations’ Rhodes Forum. This forum is a great opportunity to enhance collective thinking on multilateral issues and solutions to the major challenges of our time.

We’ve just heard a strong voice from Africa, a continent that is dear to me because I was born there.

Africa is one of the places in the world where it is indeed possible to imagine a better future, where imagination can make the future better……

We must learn to live in a world of risks.

The mix of globalisation and multipolarity has opened an unprecedented era of uncertainties. Although we might have believed that the end of the Cold War would open an era of global governance, we are actually facing a time of global disorder. Failures of regulations have led to a capitalism of cyclical crises driven by risk and increased competition. Everywhere you look, new bubbles are appearing – real estate, sovereign debt, shadow banking, student loans, etc……

Multilateralism today is the key to managing uncertainty.

The question of our time is how to avoid uncertainty. We must give priority to politics.

In times of escalation, we cannot take the risk of frozen conflicts heating up at any moment. The first tool should be a contact group, like the Minsk Group on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. It is in these small working groups, gathering goodwill and ideas, that peace is most likely to progress. These contexts bring the main actors and influencers to the table, away from the cameras and away from international pressure.

The second tool at our disposal is mediation, a role which is traditionally ascribed to the UN, and a role I believe to be the calling of France, which is able to speak to all. Even though we have seen in Libya and in Syria how extremely difficult, and how unsuccessful, this work can be, mediation remains an indispensable process. That’s why I support the efforts of French mediation carried out by President Macron, who last July gathered the Libyan leaders, Fayez al-Sarraj and Khalifa Haftar.

We must also give priority to regional actors and solutions. In many situations, the involvement of the international community leads to a takeover in terms of responsibility, and to a short-circuiting of regional and local voices. Look at the crises in Afghanistan or Libya, where Western interventions have allowed neighbours and regional actors to remain inactive, or have prevented them from playing a positive role. Look at all the regional powers and peace-brokers asking for more involvement and more influence, as in the case of South Africa. Dialogue and multilateral action cannot only be set up in Paris, Washington, or Berlin.

Regional organisations have a key role to play in bringing about peace. They are the natural players in terms of stabilisation and first response. The involvement of regional structures, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Collective Security Treaty Organization headquartered in Moscow, or the ECOWAS (Community of West African States), embodies a hopeful and dynamic multilateralism. These arenas of regional integration are more and more eager to take over responsibilities….

In order to deal with systemic regional crises like in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, or North Korea, we must build new international security architectures. Such architectures would prevent military escalations by setting regional security milestones, as well enabling cooperation and efficiency in the fight against terrorism, a common danger faced by us all.

Regarding Ukraine, designing a new cooperation and security architecture between Europe and Russia is essential, in accordance with the framework of the Helsinki conference that took place in 1975 and imposed a framework of a stable cohabitation.

As we notice rising tensions in Eastern Europe, evidenced by new large-scale military exercises, we need to think over our relationship with Russia by taking into account Russia’s fears and expectations. This will favour de-escalation rather than fuelling escalation. Today, promoting Ukraine’s neutrality at an equidistance from both Europe and Russia is our only tool if we want to preserve Ukraine’s territorial integrity and support its rebuilding process.

In the Middle East, we have to defuse an upcoming conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which would cause devastation to the region for decades. Iranian-Saudi rivalry has led to a new crisis in Qatar, which has been ostracised by its Gulf neighbours.

This is why I believe that we could promote a structure inspired by the European ECSC – a Helsinki Conference of the Middle East – gathering Iran and Saudi Arabia around oil and gas interests. The sharing of energy rents would constitute an effective factor of rapprochement, with economic cooperation today being the best shield against war.

As we witness the tragic increase in the volume of North Korean missile launches, it is imperative that we find a peaceful and multilateral way out. The first step would imply endorsement of the Russian-Chinese ‘double freeze’ proposal: a freeze of nuclear and missile testing tracked against a freeze of American and South Korean military exercises.

The second step would be to design a dedicated common security architecture gathering Russia, China, Japan, North Korea, and South Korea: This would seek an alternative to war with the North Korean regime, which is looking for lasting security guarantees.

We must build peace with new responsible stakeholders. I want to stress here the role of China in organising harmonious coexistence in the future.

China needs a recognition of its new status and its need for national security in a dangerous environment.

It would be unreasonable to provoke escalations in the South China Sea, where the issue should rather be the provision of security guarantees to all parties. It would also be unreasonable to foster economic confrontation with China over investments and trade, when it is possible to build rules in common on foundation of reciprocity.

China has the keys to many regional conflicts in Asia, because of its influence and proximity. This is true with North Korea. This is also true with Myanmar.

China also has the ambition of being a responsible stakeholder for world peace. China is now the primary contributor of troops to the UN. China is now increasingly involved in regional crises like those in the Middle East.

I also want to stress the role of Russia as a crucial actor for world order. We see this with its strong involvement in the Astana process, furthering political solutions in Syria and building on local ceasefires. We also see this with Russia’s role in the east of Europe and in crises situations like North Korea.

The time has come, I believe, for a multilateral shift.

Momentum exists for a renewal of organised multipolarity.Global disorder and unpredictability call for more balance and multilateralism.

As President Macron clarified at the UN, the majority of the issues we face are global in scope. When the weaknesses of the UN are increasingly criticised, this provides momentum for addressing UN reform, especially concerning its Security Council, which, as you know, is strongly supported by France.

International influence is restructuring around regional powers, with a shift from Western to Eastern countries. We can see this with the Astana process in dealing with the Syrian Crisis, but also with initiatives from both Russia and China in reducing pressure on the North Korean issue. This has to be a good news, because we need both more and new responsible stakeholders in the world community.

I believe Europe can become a key player in this multipolar world, and the main protector of the spirit of multilateralism.

Europe has been at the forefront of the fight against climate change, with COP21…

Europe must demonstrate a way of demanding cooperation that always puts progress before sanctions. International relations are not about upholding your own moral self-image; it is about guaranteeing the security of your people. Today, multiple risks are seen at the doors of Europe: in Ukraine, in Turkey, in Syria, and in Libya. This means that Europe simply hasn’t done its job. We need to put politics first again.

We must bet on cooperation through multi-stakeholder projects if we wish to give substance to multipolarity. Such projects are the concrete core of multipolarity. They must gather both public and private actors, and be able to mobilise common will and energies.

The New Silk Road is a promising project led by Chinese authorities in response to the major challenges of global connectivity, inclusiveness, and development.

By financing and building infrastructure from Asia to Europe, but also Africa, this project is likely to develop and stabilise the countries and the regions it will cross. The most important challenge will be creating synergies and shared experience between new tools like the AIIB and old institutions like the World Bank and the IMF.

I am convinced that it is in our interests to enhance common reflection and to enhance participation with this initiative – which is providing a new vision for global development – in order to make it a shared project. That is why I created – alongside high-level former political figures – the International Marco Polo Society, aimed at raising interest in the Belt and Road Initiative.

Within this framework, we could also work towards creating the outlines of a large political, economic, and cultural partnership between Europe and Africa. We are used to seeing Africa as the continent of problems, when I think Africa can become the continent of solutions.

Such a partnership would be an opportunity to overcome a painful colonial past and to unite our efforts in the face of common imperatives: security crises, refugee crises, growth, and environmental challenges. This could also be a way of involving and leveraging the experience of high-profile former African leaders in a constructive project for future generations.

This would imply common financing and development of infrastructure that is dramatically lacking on the other side of the Mediterranean, but also promoting economic diversification as well as intercultural dialogue.

Climate change should be the essential field of multilateralism, as it has become a global security risk. From threatened islands to the shores of our continents, climate change concerns us all and its regulation cannot be the prerogative of a few powers ready to make it a priority. We need everyone’s contribution to this area, and our response to the climate change challenge must be convergent, otherwise it will not be effective.

That is why initiatives like the Paris climate agreement of 2015 must be maintained and enhanced. We must set up strong mechanisms to monitor this agreement and ensure that it will be thoroughly implemented in the coming years.

Dealing with climate change also requires innovative and sustainable financing, such as ‘green bonds’, to direct investment towards a low-carbon economy, in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

A stable world cannot be ensured without monetary stability. This stability cannot be obtained without fostering better dialogue between the main financial institutions, as well as better cooperation between the three main world currencies: the dollar, the euro, and the yuan. This is why we might envisage the creation of a G3: a new cooperative architecture gathering governments and central banks, dedicated to dealing with crisis situations and to coordinating monetary policies.

We also need a tool to assess risk, which involves a more balanced credit-rating system. This is still dominated by American agencies. Bringing forward the emergence of Asian credit-rating capacity would be a good start towards addressing the challenges of the global economy.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear friends,

Responding to the challenges of multipolarity starts with better regulation of everything that pertains to the common goods of mankind, or that deals with human security and sustainability. A joint initiative by a few large countries in order to reflect together on the new multipolarity, on the role of states in achieving global equilibrium and peace, and on the necessary reforms to promote peace in crisis areas, would provide a useful contribution. This would also be a way of reviving the power of dialogue, which is, more than ever before, a global necessity.



see our letter on:

*Herausgegeben von Udo von Massenbach, Bärbel Freudenberg-Pilster, Joerg Barandat*



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