The Balkan chessboard: Russia’s ruble diplomacy and EU interests

In 1998, Zbigniew Brzezinski argued that “a power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions. A mere glance at the map also suggests that control over Eurasia would entail Africa’s subordination, rendering the Western Hemisphere and Oceania geopolitically peripheral to the world’s central continent”. His book The Grand Chessboard was indeed a major contribution to geopolitical studies. Depicting the new challenges for US foreign policy in a multipolar world, Brzezinski identifies the geopolitical Achilles’ heel of the 21st century in the area he designated as the Global Balkans, i.e. “the swathe of Eurasia between Europe and the Far East.” Continue reading

Axis Berlin-Belgrade-Moscow

Aside from expanding operations in the Asiatic regions such as China and the Soviet Union, Germany is also making a hard push into the Caucasus region. Germany realizes that all of these regions need jobs for their respective populations and desperately need technology as well. In exchange, Europe’s leader receives a much needed boost to its export markets in order to continue defying the global financial crisis.

BELGRADE/BERLIN (Own report) – The newly elected Serbian president Tomislav Nikolić, is offering Berlin an exclusive cooperation within the framework of German-Russian cooperation. Nikolić, a nationalist, with roots in the extreme right and good contacts to Moscow, declared that his country could serve as a manufacturing site for German companies to re-export their goods to Russia at reduced customs tariffs. Germany would “not need the EU” for this form of eastern cooperation. Serbia is one of German companies’ favorite sites in Eastern and Southeastern Europe. While the Serbian population is sinking into poverty – almost 25 percent are unemployed, hundreds of thousands of workers have to content themselves with a monthly minimum wage of 150 Euros – most German companies are registering an increasing profit. Observers are not expecting a change in the economic framework due to the change of government. The newly elected Serbian President’s party is collaborating with the extreme rightwing German nationalist Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ).

The European Leading Power

Particularly German companies can benefit from Belgrade’s change of government. Just a few days ago, the new president Nikolić, told a very influential German daily that he considers “Germany to be the European leading power.” His “first visit to a western capital (…) will take him to Berlin.” Germany bears “a great responsibility for Serbia” and therefore, should engage itself accordingly. Nikolić, who will speak this Friday at the congress of the ruling United Russia Party, and who maintains close contacts to Moscow, offers Serbia, as a manufacturing site, to Berlin within the framework of a German-Russian-Serbian cooperation. “Germany does not need the EU to cooperate with Russia,” declared Nikolić referring to German-Russian cooperation in the recent past. “Germany and Russia could also cooperate via Serbia. Germany can establish factories here and export to Russia,” even “at reduced customs tariffs,” thanks to Serbia’s ties to Russia.[8] Nikolić’s offer is strategically conceived. Should the Euro crisis lead to a permanent weakening of the EU, an expansion of German-Russian cooperation could play a central role.

Full article: Axis Berlin-Belgrade-Moscow (German Foreign Policy)