Dialogue Between Former Enemies
News from and about Russia is dominated by negative headlines: Chechnya, corruption, overwhelming bureaucracy, organized crime, “vertical democracy”, suppression of the free media, comeback of the state economy vs. market economy etc. In the shadow of these headlines, we want to draw your attention to a military dialogue between Germany and Russia.
Since 1993 the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), now in Berlin, has hosted seminars for more than 150 Russian generals and high-ranking staff officers and their German counterparts. The overall topic of these seminars focuses on military forces in democracies. Visits to NATO headquarters widen the horizon for the Russian guests. The German-Russian seminar fits into the framework of the NATO led program “Partnership for Peace” and the activities under the label “NATO-Russian-Council”.
In my view, there is no alternative to a broad dialogue with the Russian forces. Russian forces are an important factor in the domestic and international game of power on the Eurasian continent. When and if their leaders realize that NATO as an Alliance and NATO member states do not have any aggressive doctrine towards Russia, the dialogue will remain an important confidence-building measure.
Similar institutes like the SWP might take the Berlin seminar as a blueprint for starting up initiatives in their own countries.