The Potsdam Conference: opinions and comments

14 October 2015

Another Potsdam Conference completed its work in Moscow. Its participants included leading public and cultural figures, scientists, diplomats from two countries, who were discussing if the Helskinki-2 was needed nowadays.


The conversation was not only limited to memories about the conference, which 40 years ago had established the architectural construction of security on the continent, and discussions of an opportunity to repeat it. Public in Moscow and Berlin is concerned about many problems, which have been accumulating in the bilateral relations. The participants of the forum clearly understand that in the future one should act based on the solid foundation of our cooperation. Any crisis sooner or later will come to an end, but lost trust should be restores already today.


The experts are confident that Moscow and Europe are facing a common task of jointly building the European future.


When discussing the topic of the forum, the speakers noted a need in some legal document to mark the end of the time of bipolar world, which had existed during the “cold war” period. It was acknowledged that Russia and the West had never discussed the post-Soviet space on a serious level. There, a contradiction between the right of the state to choose for itself some kind of alliance, providing for security, and the right of the state to confront such an alliance, if the latter presents a threat to security, has emerged.


Thus, it would be fair to talk about the fact that the world today is multipolar, but limited bipolarity Russia-West is being formed. Without improvement of relations in this couple, it will be impossible to resolve, for example, the Ukrainian conflict.


Special Envoy for International Cultural Cooperation to President of Russia Mikhail Shvydkoy drew attention of the participants to how relations between Russia and Europe in the cultural filed had been changing over the past years and how the tone of media had been changing. It is an objective process to a certain extent as it is related to a change of generations since people see the world differently than their predecessors.


One of the important conclusions of the conference is that security begins in our heads. Today, we are missing honesty and patience, and it is hard sometimes to listen to and understand an opponent.


President of the Russian International Affairs Council and Head of the Advisory Board of the Gorchakov Fund Igor Ivanov mentioned in his speech that problems, which Europe and Russia were currently facing, had been accumulating for a long time. And economic cooperation, which had been expanding, was not able to resolve contradictions emerging in other spheres. Liquidation after the end of the cold war was happening based on a number of fundamental principles. We have not arrived to an agreement on understating concepts of “sovereignty”, “aggression”, “a right for defense” and some others. Besides the fact that there should be clarity in those and other concepts and ideas, clear definitions should have been given regarding who we were to each other – partners, allies, competitors.


When drawing conclusions of the forum, Executive Director of the Gorchakov Fund Leonid Drachevsky underlined that there was a need in development of a mechanism by the intellectual society to move to a new conference on security in order to communicate the perspective to governments of the countries. A document, which will include opinions and concerns expressed, is required to be further forwarded to the ministries of foreign affairs of the two states.

The Potsdam Conference was finished with a briefing for Russian and German media.