It’s Friday, 3 April – do you know where your American president is? I’ll give you a clue: today he is generally in the area of the French/German border where it is demarcated by the Rhine: in Germany at Baden-Baden and a village called Kehl, but mainly at French Strasbourg for a combined NATO summit and celebration of that alliance’s 60th anniversary. That organization may even get a new secretary-general as a result of this gathering; current Danish premier Anders Fogh Rasmussen is the favorite to the Dutch Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who has held that position for five years now.
Amid all the honor-guard reviews, meetings, and celebrations one prominent voice calls out forlornly from the sideline, like a jilted past lover of the bridegroom at a wedding. It belongs to Mikhail Gorbachev, the last General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, winner of the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize, and a man highly “involved” (at least in terms of the measures he did not take) in the wave of revolutions in 1989-90 that took Eastern Europe out of the Soviet bloc. Both the Financial Times Deutschland (Gorbachev criticizes NATO expansion; no by-line) and the Czech daily Lidové noviny (NATO decieved the Russians, Gorbachev maintains, article by Petra Procházková) are now carrying reports of recent remarks he made to German media outlets accusing the West of breaking certain promises that were made to his government back at the time of German reunification in 1990. (more…)