HomeFeaturesDailyBriefingsRapidReconSpecial ReportsAbout Us

Moscow, Missiles and the Polish Perspective

French president Jaques Chirac warned the US on its plans to place missile interceptors within Poland and the Czech Republic to defend Europe against a limitted volley from Iran. He heeded Putins warning that the placement would spark an "inevitable arms race" and potentially a new Cold War.

The French president said Europe and the US needed to consider Russia’s concerns about the projected missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic. “We should be very careful about encouraging the creation of a new dividing line in Europe or a return of the order of the past,” he said.

Actually, the "order of the past" had Poland and Czechoslovakia behind the iron curtain as Soviet satellite states, clients beholden to Moscow. Now, both states are working with the United States for European security, not planning a defense against the Yanks. And it is Putin who seeks to restore the "order of the past" with his apparent desires to reconstitute the Soviet Union.

Perhaps Mr. Chirac is simply upset that the Czech Republic's President Vaclav Klaus said Friday in a speech that "Environmentalism should belong in the social sciences," adding that "environmentalism is a religion" that seeks to reorganize the world order.

Regardless, if anyone understands the perils of the "order of the past," it would be the Czechs and the Poles. One would do well to listen more closely to them on such issues than an outgoing French president who never lived under the Stalinist boot.

2 Comments

One has to bear in mind that Russian-French relations are driven by Russian interests rather than mutual goals.

French presidential elections will happen on May 6, 2007 and French president Jacques Chirac is unlikely to be reelected, first, owing to certain unpopularity; second, owing to his age (75 years old); and third, trends and patterns noticeable on the French media strongly suggest that “there is a general and concerted will” to elect Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy, head of the right party UMP, the French conservative party, and Minister of the Interior.

This will constitute a serious problem for Mr. Jacques Chirac who has some skeletons in his cupboard.

Since the 1990’s, the name Jacques Chirac has been regularly evoked in the frame of 8 justice affairs in which he was involved when he was Major of Paris. In the frame of these affairs, Mr. Jacques Chirac has consistently refused to testify before the French justice court and to submit to notifications sent to him by French judges. Actually, and in accordance with the special dispositions of the French constitutional justice called “immunité présidentielle” (presidential immunity), his presidential position preserves him from any prosecution.
There is no such thing as impeachment in the French constitutional system.

So, Mr. Jacques Chirac will no longer benefit of the presidential immunity as soon as a new French president will be elected in May, and when this time will come he will have to reckon on some friendly relationships and allies to escape the French justice. But those helps have to be paid while he is still in power to make important decisions. He already managed to appoint some of his old friends at key positions in the French justice apparatus, but this will not preclude him from the attacks of his opponents, and more particularly from the French Socialists and other far leftist parties which entertained long lasting privileged relationship with Russia. Perhaps Russian president Vladimir Putin will be in position to exert significant influence in the frame of this last question.

If ever this last hypothesis proved to be true, then it might explain the sudden insistence and confidence of Mr. Vladimir Putin in his endeavour to see Russia counting among the most prominent shareholders of European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) in the weeks to come. On August 30, 2006, shortly after the stock price decline caused by the A380 delivery delays, more than 5% of EADS stock has been reportedly purchased by the Russian state-owned Vneshtorgbank.

It is noteworthy that these last repeated Russian propositions and facts have triggered very little comments on the French media in general; and nearly none at all on all French TV channels. This last point may find their explanation in thee following facts relating to Airbus, a subsidiary of EADS based at Toulouse, France.

On 28 February 2007 Airnus’s CEO Louis Gallois announced the company's restructuring plans. The plan would see 10,000 jobs cut over four years; 4,300 in France, 3,700 in Germany, 1,600 in the UK and 400 in Spain. Plants at Saint Nazaire, Varel and Laupheim face sell off or closure, while Meaulte, Nordenham and Filton are "open to investors". The announcments have resulted in Airbus unions in France to strike, with German Airbus workers possibly following.

Is Mr Jacques Chirac expected to follow the example of the former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who signed an agreement with Russia to build the North Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea to supply Russian gas directly to Germany, bypassing Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic countries?

For the record, soon after stepping down as chancellor, Schröder accepted a post as the head of the shareholders' committee in the Russian-led consortium, controlled by Gazprom, which is building the pipeline, raising questions about the conflict of interest.

Such similar arrangement between Mr Vladimir Putin and Mr. Jacques Chirac, focusing this time on EADS, and the seemingly indefectible pro-Russian stance of the French president we may still notice today, might be likely to provide Mr. Jacques Chirac, in return, with an array of possible solutions which would allow him to escape personal problems he will have to face after May 6.

However, if ever my assumptions prove to be well founded, then the reputation and image of France and the credibility of her foreign policy on the international stage will inescapably be questioned, and French self censorship at home will provide little relief about these last points.

Meanwhile, I forecast, at least, that a significant participation of Russia in the capital of EADS is a possibility much likely to materialize before May 6.

Also, my previous explanations will prove to be helpful to anyone is still puzzled by the incomprehensible position of France during past and next important issues relating to foreign affairs in general, and Russia and the United States in particular.

It is not quite a secret - at least not in the Czech Republic, including media - that President Chirac, on the contrary, agrees with most of these comments about energy and environment by President Klaus. Chirac said it quite clearly to Klaus during the EU summit at Lahti, Finland. Unfortunately, Chirac himself doesn't enjoy the right to speak about these issues in public.