MOSCOW, June 28. /TASS/. Finland was one of the few European countries with neutral attitudes in relation to Russia, and the United States, and the final choice of Helsinki as the seat of the Russian-American summit could define a symbolic value of the city for relations between the two countries, because here in 1975 was signed the Final act of the conference on security and cooperation in Europe. This opinion was expressed in an interview with TASS experts.
As reported earlier, the press service of the Kremlin, a summit of the presidents of the Russian Federation and the USA on the 16th of July in Helsinki. Washington confirmed the date and venue of the summit.
A neutral country
“The state of Russian-American relations is that holding the summit in Russia or the United States are excluded for political reasons, – said the expert of the international discussion club “Valdai”, the Deputy Director of the Centre for comprehensive European and international studies, NRU HSE Dmitry Suslov. When the relations are so confrontational, meetings are held in third countries”.
The expert added that for the same reasons it is impossible to hold a summit in allied countries of Russia and the USA, for example, in Belarus or Kazakhstan, Germany or France. “In this case, it is necessary to observe absolute political and diplomatic parity,” he said.
Suslov also noted that the summit could pass it in a European country, because then the meeting would be conveniently combined with a visit of the President of the United States Donald trump in this region. “From a logistical point of view and just convenient that this meeting took place in Europe,” he said.
The importance of the factor of neutrality, Finland has allocated and expert of the Center for security studies of RAS Konstantin Blokhin. “Finland is a country that is more or less neutral and more or less favourable as Russia, and the United States, he said. – All the talk about the future of NATO enlargement Finland repress, people also opposed. So the value of Finland – neutrality”.
Speaking about the logistics of the meeting, Blokhin pointed to the convenience of Finland and from the point of view of Russia, because it is in close proximity to Russian borders.
Character of discharge
However, in addition to Finland, in Europe there are two countries observing the position of neutrality and have been suggested as possible locations for the summit, that is Austria and Switzerland. An important factor in the final selection, according to experts, could be the symbolism of Helsinki for relations between Russia and the United States.
“I think that the choice was between Austria, Finland and Switzerland, – said Suslov. In Finland, in this case, I think, for historical and symbolic reasons, as it is in Helsinki took place the famous conference for security and cooperation in Europe in 1975 signed the Helsinki founding act (signed by 35 countries, including the USSR and the USA – approx. TASS), which has become a symbol of warming Russian-American relations and détente and the apparent symbol and a Testament to the fact that the cold war though not ended, but has passed to a new stage – more stable and manageable relationship to the period of Mature confrontation.”
“This is symbolism Helsinki: even if Russia and the United States largely do not agree with each other and carry out confrontational policies and are opposed, they are in dialogue and make the relationship manageable and stable, – said Suslov. Therefore, from a symbolic point of view was chosen this city.”
Blokhin also noted that speech can go about the roll call of subjects of the negotiations, because, judging by the statements of the parties following the results of visit to Russia the assistant to the President for national security John Bolton, an important topic at the upcoming summit will be the issues of strategic stability and arms control, which was also discussed in 1975.
“Logically, too, can cause this to happen because basically it is clear that Russian-American relations a lot of unresolved issues, but as we know from yesterday’s meeting [Russian President Vladimir] Putin with Bolton, which was also attended by [Russian defense Minister] Sergei Shoigu, mostly issues of the talks between Putin and trump will be devoted to strategic stability,” he said.
In Helsinki, 43 years ago it was also about how to avoid accidental escalation between the Soviet Union and the United States in Europe. Similar issues are to be discussed, according to Blokhin, and Putin with a trump. “It is clear that the most important thing that will be the focus of this meeting was the establishment of a mechanism that would put control of potential escalation of the conflict between the US and Russia, because there are many regions where we may encounter, and this encounter can lead to unpredictable situations – in Syria or in Ukraine, he continued. – We know that the military seems to have contact, but compared with the same years of the cold war, we can say that mechanisms are, in fact, no.”
In choosing Helsinki, and, for example, of Vienna, which was called media as the venue of the summit for most of June, since the visit to the country Putin, could be the result of other factors, not usually so noticeable, however, acquires additional importance in view of the complexity of relations between Russia and the United States.
“Austria may more or less close to Putin – said Blokhin. – Russian President, his career was largely associated with the German world, he is a Germanist, talking in German. For him, it’s almost native land, but for trump there. So we need some neutral country that would be their for US, and for us.”
Expert wounds called not to see too much importance in choosing Helsinki, not Vienna or Geneva, as good relations between Russia and the USA are important for all countries in the region and Europe as a whole is interested in reducing the contradictions. “Assuming, for example, that both sides would withdraw from the Treaty on intermediate-range missiles and the United States will install such missiles in Europe, it is clear that Europe will be automatically our goal and hostage of Russian-American relations,” he said.
“It [the choice of Helsinki] is a question of intrigues of European politics, – said Blokhin. But I don’t think it is an indicator of some structural changes in EU policy or in the American approach.”