‘Why Are We Not Together?’

On December 1st an inauguration ceremony for Alexander Rahr, a prominent expert in Russian-German relations, as Honorary Professor of the HSE took place at the HSE Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs. After the event he gave a lecture on the history, problems and dynamics of the bilateral politics of Germany and Russia.

Sergey Karaganov, Dean of the HSE Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, awarded Alexander Rahr with the title of Honorary Professor and said: ‘Alexander Rahr, a political scientist, international relations journalist and publicist, author of hundreds of articles and six books, is one of the most outstanding figures in the community of international relations experts in Europe. He has played a huge role in bringing Russia and Germany closer together, and this has become his lifework. Awarding him the title of Honorary Professor at our university is a sign of our sincere recognition of his noble and valuable work’.

Alexander Rahr, Director of the German Council on Foreign Relations Berthold Beitz Center for Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Central Asia, has long been well known in Russia. In 2003 Alexander Rahr was awarded the German Federal Cross of Merit (Bundesverdienstkreuz) for his contribution to the development of German-Russian relations, and since 2004 he has been a distinguished professor at the Moscow State University for International Relations and member of the Valdai Club. He wrote a remarkable biography of Mikhail Gorbachev and a book about Vladimir Putin entitled ‘A German in the Kremlin’.

Sergey Karaganov
Sergey Karaganov

His father, Gleb Rahr, a prominent figure of the Russian emigration, was a presenter on Radio Liberty (Radio Svoboda) for 30 years and made a huge contribution for the unification of foreign and Russian orthodox churches. According to Sergey Karaganov, Gleb Rahr was a symbolic figure among Russian emigres – those anti-Soviets who devoted their lives to the fight for Russia: both against Hitler and Stalin.

In the introduction to his inauguration lecture, Alexander Rahr said: ‘It seems to me my hard work as a mediator between Russia and Germany needed trust from both sides. Many people express me their trust in Germany, when I explain to them the difficulties of the transformation which Russia has been undertaking for the last 20 years. At the same time, when I explain Germany and Europe to Russian society, I feel that I am not less trusted in Russia. I perfectly understand German interests, but I also feel the Russian ones too. Subconsciously, I am trying to unite them’.

The lecture was dedicated to an analytical review of German-Russian relations and suggested answers to 5 key questions, which, according to Alexander Rahr, cover and most fully reflect the essence of the bilateral politics:

— Why are we not together? After the fall of the USSR many people thought that the future Europe would be built by a united Germany and a free Russia.

— Is German Ostpolitik (Eastern Policy) with the slogan ‘changes through trade’ effective?

— What are the sources and the essence of friendly relations between Germany and Russia? Why, after the horrors of the WWII and 45 years of occupation of the East Germany by the USSR, are the relations between our countries warmer than those between Russia and other European states?

— Why has Germany not yet managed to appropriately use Vladimir Putin’s special interest, ‘Germanophilia’, to bring the interests of both countries closer together?

— Why have EU leaders lost interest in the idea of a ‘common European home’? And what is suggested to replace this concept?

Rahr suggested his deliberate, detailed and emotional answers to these and other questions and unveiled his own view of the different stages in the development of relations between Russia and Germany, as well as telling them about some of the key problems of the bilateral policies of both countries in a global context. He also shared his views and hopes on the potential foreign policy and cooperation between Germany and Russia.

Valentina Gruzintseva, HSE News Service

Photos by Nikita Benzoruk