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Rather it seemed that whoever played Russia, for example, or Britain, would always end up playing that country in the same way.

The players each represented one of the major European nations as they existed about one hundred years 26869 I am sure that President Sarkozy of France, as president of the European Council, will bear this in mind as he steps on to the Moscow tarmac on Monday accompanied by Mr Barroso and Mr Solana, to leyy with Mr Putin and President Medvedev how best we move on from the Georgian imbroglio.

The game was known as Diplomacy because, as it is difficult to attack and to defend oneself at the same time and as a single country did not necessarily lwy the force by itself to overcome an opponent, the object was to arrange strategic alliances and non-aggression pacts with other players while bluffing about your true intentions.

Don’t miss out on EUobserver’s coverage of the European election. We both need a rules-based world. It was, however, a time consuming game. EUobserver’s coverage of the European election. Of course, to understand does not necessarily mean to agree, still less to cave in.

Unlike that of most 266889 its neighbours, Russian foreign policy has not changed significantly in years, despite cataclysmic changes of regime. Morocco’s policy against radicalisation – and the EU The issues at stake are complex.

Better Russia as an ally than a foe

For, in a sense, Europe has been caught facing two ways. And we both need to help each other stick by those rules. Accepting its fading away will be extremely damaging. But by understanding the Russian position – including why so many actions taken, semi-innocently, by the West are seen as provocative and threatening by Moscow – we shall be better able to reach a positive conclusion rather than a conversation that remains a dialogue of the deaf, which is what occurs when politicians posture and issue empty threats.


Russia is better an ally than a foe. With such stains on our collective conscience, it ill behoves us to lecture Russia about adhering to international law; we are both tarred with the same delinquent brush. But it does mean ceasing to treat Russia as though she were simply a blank space on the map. Diplomacy by megaphone, though fashionable, is counterproductive. There is room for cautious optimism in Slovakia, but the chilling effects of Jan Kuciak’s murder may be felt for some time and continued international scrutiny is important.

Heaven knows we need a stable and effective partnership with Russia – and not just to run our own inter-bloc relations – but for the wider world as well.

As a reason for transgressing international law, uniqueness is worthless. What used to strike me as significant, however, was the characteristics of the nation being played did not reflect, as they would in any other game, the characteristics of the player. Russia is not the old Soviet Union bent on ideological domination by force. That the United States has an even stronger stake in this hypocritical position should not cloud our judgement. Student, retired or simply can’t afford full price?

Yet it is hard to see Monday’s Kremlin talks other than as a re-invigorated attempt to find a secure basis for just such a partnership. But whatever the length, it is surely important that we on the European side understand Russia’s legitimate fears and aspirations which, of course, extend far beyond the Caucasus.

Opinion Better Russia as an ally than a foe Russia has not been the only power to have flouted international law. Even in the real world, diplomacy is a task that requires a slow and steady hand.

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Watch our founder Lisbeth Kirk explain the reasons in this 30 seconds video. We can deal rationally with modern Russia. We accepted that international law should be broken when first we bombed Kosovo and Serbia and then again when a majority of member states recognised Kosovo’s illegal independence.

What is true in a game, I suspect, holds no less true in real life. Diplomacy by megaphone, though fashionable, is counterproductive What used to strike me as significant, however, was the characteristics of the nation being played did not reflect, as they would in any other game, the characteristics of the player. It would be naive of us therefore if we were to pretend that Russian foreign policy is likely to change now, rooted as it is in the country’s geography and history.

France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Russia and so forth; their mythical armies and fleets no aeroplanes then battled for territory and power on a large board representing the map of Europe and the seas around it. A number of European states also joined the equally illegal and ill-fated crusade into Iraq.

We in Europe need also to understand and with a degree of humility how our own actions, over Kosovo in particular, are seen by Russia.

Better Russia as an ally than a foe

Europe needs Russian help in the Security Council on issues such as Iran, militant Islam, the Middle East, climate change, nuclear proliferation and so forth. We Europeans like to pat ourselves on the back and tell the world how we have replaced ‘war’ with ‘law.

They will take time to resolve. Given the importance and intractability of the issues, more time is surely needed for something worthwhile.

On Thursday December 6the constitutional affairs committee of the European Parliament will finally have a crucial vote on changes to rules of procedure that govern MEPs. Letter Malta responds to Venice Commission pey