EUROPEAN DIPLOMATIC ROW: SPEND THE MONEY ON RUSSIAN GAS OR NATO?
Germany - US Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, is facing strong criticism from the Bundestag, including prominent calls that he should be expelled. This reaction comes after Grenell’s criticism of Germany’s insufficient military spending with NATO (1.38% instead of 2%) and building the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany.
The question at this point has been for many years: while the intellectuals of the world are campaigning for disarmament, why does NATO require more military spending? why does it exist at all after the end of Communism, the Cold War, and the Soviet-Union? Why should tensions grow again between the US and Russia after the Cold War was ended by Gorbachev and Reagan? Because Russia invaded Ukraine and the question has come up now in Realpolitik: spend funds for NATO or for Russian Gas?
War and conflicts have economic reasons besides geopolitical interests. The new East-West conflict started with a row over gas from Russia to Ukraine, which Ukraine failed to pay fully. The tensions gave rise to Ukraine turning towards European suppliers and the European Union. The Russian occupation of Crimea and the war in Eastern Ukraine created fear among the Baltic states, who started seeking protection from NATO. When Prime Minister Medvedev announced at the end of last year that Belarus will get cheaper gas when it integrates more into Russia, even their close ally President Lukashenko made it clear that he does not want to be a Governor of a Russian province. Belarus has opened their borders in the last months, visa-free for the West same as to the East (even though the border guards still feel very Soviet with their heavy military medals!), and Lukashenko seems to have stopped arresting protestors. Are Russia’s buffer states looking more to the West than ever before in fear of losing their independence?
Putin’s potential ambition of unifying the former Soviet Union is resulting in the exact opposite, a call for a strong NATO where unimaginable developments might happen, like Belarus seeking protection against further integration into Russia. The strong cultural and historic bonds between Russia and it’s former comrades from the Soviet Union are being damaged by this fear. The more Russia pushes for integration, the more the neighbors turn to the West.
How to break out of this old mindset and economic interdependencies? By getting rid of oil and gas, by investing in renewable energies and saving the world from war and climate change altogether as seen in our 2018 nominee film, Climate Warriors.
When Cinema for Peace hosted Peter Verzilov from Pussy Riot in Berlin for his treatment after he was poisoned, the US and the Canadian ambassadors visited him at the hospital and asked the Canadian-Russian citizen among others: “What did we do wrong on the Russian relations? What went wrong since a good relationship in 2000?” Cinema for Peace did not publish these visits at that time as Pussy Riot had been accused of being sponsored by the West, while in reality they are supported by anyone - and they support themselves anyone - who supports human rights. After his treatment in Berlin and traveling to Israel, Peter went back to Moscow to continue fighting for more democracy and peace. At the Cinema for Peace Gala 2019 he spoke in old form again with a clear mind.
Mikhail Gorbachev, who brought peace and democracy to Russia for the first time after more than 1000 years, expressed the opinion that the West made two major mistakes: first by declaring itself the winner of the Cold War and losing the respect for Russia, second by exchanging in NATO manuals the word 'Soviet-Union' with 'Russia' - which had been willing in the year 2000 to join NATO as an alliance against joint enemies and terrorists. Instead, the dualism is back, and Russia blocks with China the UN Security Council and does exactly the opposite of what the West would have wished for, like in Syria - which has become the greatest tragedy of the new Millennium.
Will the ICC prosecute Assad?
Jordan - Syrian activists and lawyers are using a clever idea to bring perpetrator Bashar Al Assad before the International Criminal Court. The latest move is inspired by the precedent set in the Rohingya case. While Myanmar is not a signatory of the Rome Statute, they can still be tried for ‘crimes against humanity’ because a part of their crime, expulsion of Rohingyas, happens at the border of Bangladesh, which is a signatory. In this similar case with Syria, the Syrian refugees in Jordan have sent communications to ICC, asking them to exercise jurisdiction on Syria, through Jordan. the Office of the Prosecutor at ICC is said to have confirmed the receipt of the communication and responded that they will analyze the materials submitted.
In January, a US district court found the syrian government responsible for the killing of the Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin. This was the first time in seven year conflict that a court has found the forces loyal to Bashar Al Assad responsible for deliberately bombing civilians. Is this an indication to a start of the end of Assad's regime?
Films give testimony of the greatest humanitarian catastrophes of our time, like the war in Syria. This Week, Cinema for Peace supported the screening of the Film “Under the Wire” by Reporters without Borders in Berlin and met Director Matthew Heineman and the photographer of Marie Colvin, Paul Conroy. The films “Under the Wire” and “A Private War” show how Assad with Russian support, slaughtered civilians and children, and the story of Marie Colvin and Paul Conroy being the only war correspondents in Homs in Syria during the siege and destruction in 2012. Their selfless efforts in telling this story to the outside world created a global awareness on the issue. Marie Colvin lost her life as a result of this and Paul Conroy, severely injured, survived by a hair’s breadth. He wants to come with his story and filmed testimony to The Hague and the ICC - a wish Cinema for Peace will fulfill, having hosted a few special screenings at the ICC since last 10 years, offering films as evidence of crimes against humanity to the first chief-prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo. Cinema for Peace will further submit the filmmaker's evidences from Matthew Heineman and Paul Conroy to the ICC through the article 15 of the Rome Statute.