There’s a Platzeck’s Kettle of Fish!

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A former head of SPD, Matthias Platzeck, suggests the Western countries shall recognize the Crimea annexation by the means of backwards regulation on the level of international law.

The former head of SDP and now the head of the so-called the German-Russian Forum, Matthias Platzeck, has recently had a chance to shine in the public debate held in Germany with something he would probably call “realism” or “common sense”. In a TV interview he suggested that in order to save the European/German-Russian relations before they entire go to waste, to maintain the dialogue and the continuity of those relations, Vladimir Putin and all Russians altogether should be enabled to save their face after the conflict in Ukraine. At first, it seems quite a sensible suggestion. After all, allowing somebody to “save their face” shall be perceived as giving the defeated ones a chance to essentially honourable retreat from the conflict and, usually, to minimize the losses. Such a grand gesture is often made by the winners who, after achieving all their substantial goals, resolve to compromise on minor points in order to end the crisis as soon as possible. The thing about Platzeck’s statement is that he used the metaphor that is generally perceived slightly differently, hence not correctly. As when Platzeck claims that Russia should have a chance to “save its face”, what he actually means is that the West shall meet all its demands and to end the conflict with Russia gaining the upper hand.

And so Platzeck, for the sake of “the continuity of dialogue and relations” – let’s be frank – mainly between Germany and Russia, especially on the economic and business level, suggests the Western countries shall recognize the Crimea annexation by the means of backwards regulation on the level of international law, in a way that would be “acceptable for everyone”. This would probably entail some Russian reparations to Kiev or repeating the Crimean referendum – this time supervised entirely by OSCE. With regard to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Platzeck considers probably a similar solution in the near future as “It is currently difficult to imagine that Donetsk and Luhansk after all that has happened, returning to the Ukrainian state bundle (?!) again”. And so Putin would be allowed to save his “face” – and this “face” signifying here “Crimea, Donetsk, Luhansk and the plans to reinstate the empire” while the West would lose its face (here the so-called “face” would stand for “the remnants of honour, credibility and legitimacy related to liberal-democratic values”). However, as merry Mr Platzeck says, this needs to be done as the ones who are smarter should sometimes give in. This example shows that “the smarter one” gives in even more eagerly when he believes himself to be a wise man while he actually is a fool or bought off spin-doctor.

Fortunately, German politics does not only consist of the likes of Platzeck. Chancellor Angela Merkel, despite the fact that during the last few weeks she has shown little effectiveness, she does, however, at least see the intentions behind Putin’s actions in Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Serbia. There is also a sensible reaction of the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Graff Lambsdorff (FDP) to the scandalous suggestions of Mr Platzeck. Lambsdorff called the degeneration of the socio-democrat “a slap in the face of all the people who work for the democratic development in Ukraine and live in fear of a further advance of the Russian military.

Lambsdorff called on the SPD, to distance themselves from the statements of their former head. I’m worried that such a reaction will not happen. Instead of that the murmurs of social democrats referring to the Chancellor Merkel’s attitude are becoming increasingly audible. Pricking up his ears Mr Putin is immediately picking up such noises and let us not forget that he has a long-standing expertise in using the SPD politicians as his own toys.



Translation: Olga Łabendowicz