By Gordon brown
Twenty years ago, as the Berlin Wall fell, people assumed the end of hostility between East and West, and a new world order founded on common values. As part of this, 10 Eastern European states joined Nato and intensified co-operation with Europe and more wanted to follow. But Russia’s hostile action towards Georgia suggests that they are unreconciled to this new reality. Their aggression raises two urgent questions for us: how best to stabilise Georgia now, and how to make it clear to Russia that its unilateral approach is dangerous and unacceptable. War in Georgia also poses a serious longer term issue – how can we best create a rules-based international system that protects our collective security and safeguards our shared values?
At tomorrow’s European summit in Brussels we will first unite to alleviate the suffering of the 100,000 Georgian civilians left without homes. The UK has already pledged £2m, and I will urge partners to meet not only Georgia’s immediate needs but its long-term reconstruction and development needs. We will deploy peace monitors to better judge violations of the ceasefire, appoint a senior figure to drive the humanitarian and political effort, and support the Nato Georgia Commission, with a Nato team sent to Georgia.
Georgia has felt the consequences of the conflict. It is important that the summit also demonstrates to Russia that its actions have real consequences.
No one wants a new Cold War or the encirclement of Russia. But when I spoke to President Medvedev yesterday, I told him to expect a determined European response. As David Miliband has said, there can be no return to ‘business as usual’ unless and until Russia commits fully to Georgia’s territorial integrity and withdraws to its previous positions.
Russia has emerged as a significant economic power, with its trade increasing fourfold. It has done so by reaping the benefits of a stable global order based on agreements that make trade and investment both possible and profitable, bringing greater stability and certainty to international relations. Equally, when Russia fights secessionist movements in Chechnya or Dagestan, it expects others to respect its territorial integrity and not to recognise declarations of independence.
So when Russia has a grievance over an issue such as South Ossetia, it should act multilaterally by consent rather than unilaterally by force. I believe Russia faces a choice about the nature of its responsibilities as a leading and respected member of the international community. My message to Russia is simple: if you want to be welcome at the top table of organisations such as the G8, OECD and WTO, you must accept that with rights come responsibilities. We want Russia to be a good partner in the G8 and other organisations, but it cannot pick and choose which rules to adhere to.
That is why I will argue tomorrow that Russia should accept Georgia’s territorial integrity and international mechanisms for addressing these conflicts, and withdraw troops to their previous positions. And, in the light of Russian actions, the EU should review – root and branch – our relationship with Russia. We should continue to strengthen the transatlantic relationship and may need to meet more regularly as the G7. We are also reflecting on the Nato response. We must re-evaluate the alliance’s relationship with Russia, and intensify our support to Georgia and others who may face Russian aggression .
No nation can be allowed to exert an energy stranglehold over Europe and the events of August have shown the critical importance of diversifying our energy supply. The tenfold increase in the world oil price in the past decade has demonstrated that diversification from oil is also an economic necessity. The UK will go from being 80 per cent self-sufficient now to having to import almost two-thirds of our gas and more than half of our oil by 2020 – precisely as markets become more volatile as more people chase fewer natural resources. And with states such as Russia increasingly using their energy resources as policy tools it is apparent that the security grounds for this shift are stronger as well.
Without urgent action we risk sleepwalking into an energy dependence on less stable or reliable partners. That is why we in the UK are putting in law our commitment to cut CO2 emissions by 60 per cent by 2050, looking to replace our ageing nuclear power plants, to encourage greener fuels to power our homes and businesses and to transform the way we travel. Europe also needs to take action. Tomorrow’s summit must add urgency to the work on Europe’s energy agenda. We must more rapidly build relationships with other producers of oil and gas. Our response must include a redoubling of our efforts to complete a single market in gas and electricity, a collective defence to secure our energy supplies.
I will also be pressing European leaders to increase funding for a project to allow us to source energy from the Caspian Sea, reducing our dependence on Russia. I will encourage European partners to use our collective bargaining power rather than seek separate energy deals with Russia. And because the environmental necessity is urgent, we must deliver an ambitious 2020 climate and energy package by the end of this year.
More than 10 years ago Alexander Solzhenitsyn – who died just days before this latest chapter in the history of his country – wrote: ‘We were recently entertained by a naive fable of the happy arrival of the end of history, of the overflowing triumph of an all-democratic bliss; the ultimate global arrangement had supposedly been attained. But we all see and sense that something very different is coming, something new, and perhaps quite stern. No, tranquillity does not promise to descend on our planet, and will not be granted us so easily.’ The past few days have seen some of his predictions realised.
This is why the changing global order cannot be governed by institutions designed in the middle of the last century. We now know how much more we have to do to create an effective system of international rules. We must strengthen the system of global governance to meet the challenges of our interdependent world. We must reshape our global architecture to meet the new challenges: climate change, energy security, poverty, migration. And in doing so we must stand up for both our vital interests and our essential values .