Vladimir Petrovsky (Under Sec-Gen of UN), 2008

Transcript of Interview with Vladimir Petrovsky June 7, 2008 in Moscow
Interviewer — Metta Spencer, with Ignat Kalinin
Mr Petrovsky met Ignat and me in a quaint Moscow coffee shop, across the street from the park that is the setting for the first scene of Bulgakov’s novel, “The Master and Margarita.” I had interviewed him many years before in his office near the top of the UN secretariat in New York, during a thunder storm. Now he seems to be enjoying an active retirement.

Vladimir Petrovsky: As I state, I was pretty much concerned with the security problems and, you know, it’s a lot of still again about this – military security, energy security. But the people completely [forgetting?] that in the United Nations, in 1989, that the Soviet Union, Unites States, European Congress, and Canada has made a major breakthrough to the new vision of security. The resolution has been adopted to treat the security in all aspects. In other words, what is really important to treat security as a comprehensive security, not only security from violence in the conflicts but also security from hunger, diseases, environmental degradation, and this movement of the people. In other words, to create the broader region of the security, and this is very much in today’s Russia and all these issues about the European security and they remember that the solution for security has been done in Helsinki when this Helsinki Final Act was prepared. And actually there, they give comprehensive security has been already brought by…

MS: I think Lloyd Axworthy introduced the term “human security” in Canada, I don’t know…

VP: It’s human security yes, which is part of the comprehensive security. Comprehensive security is, I would say, horizontal security but on the vertical line, it’s security of faith, security of society, and security of human being. In other words, security in all aspects and if you wish to have this security, you cannot treat only one problem. The people also forgetting that the major international organizations, both League of Nations and the United Nations, were created with the purpose of security. So now no, no, and this is really important. I’m very glad this issue is now moving to the agenda.

MS: OK, now you’re going off to Geneva in a couple of days…

VP: Yes

MS: …right?

VP: Yes, in a couple of days because I’m, as I state, with the Institute United Nations Training and Research Centre.

MS: What’s it called?



VP: UNITAR. And it’s involved in the education of the UN people and education of the governmental officials. And it is also very important, you know, especially when you go to the parliaments and connect also with the parliaments. You know sometimes you go to the parliaments and you’re very much shocked. They’re inventing the bicycles, which already exists and [from here?] the United Nations has a number of recommendations which could be used international policy. Of course, it should not applied automatically, but it like a driver’s license you know. They need to apply taking into account the old conditions in any particular country. And they do not know and this is also very important role United Nations could play today as a centre of the world.

MS: So what is your part in this UNITAR? What exactly will you be doing?

VP: I’m, as I said, I’m [rotating?] this _________ new idea, the new vision of security, new vision comprehensive security, and I’m also very much interested to see how it has been developed in Europe, European vision of security and how the Europeans deal with their security cause Europeans has achieved a lot. They have a very good expression: ‘Ideals do not work with our deals’.

MS: [laugh]

VP: And that’s why they always trying to find the solutions and now they are moving to talk about this issue and they experience it with interest. They even now made the agreement with the United Nations on the effective multilateralism and European Union, which is very much amongst regional organization. But still it is very interested in the UN experience.

MS: Wait a minute, you’re talking about something recent?

VP: Recent ? No, it was two or three years ago.

MS: Oh, okay. This is an EU measure or what?

VP: EU and United Nations. Agreement on Effective Multilateralism.

MS: Well, I have to admit I don’t know about it.

VP: Oh, yes, yes.

MS: I’m sorry to say.

VP: They want to learn lessons because everybody speaks about European experience, of course, and certain parts are very attractive but it’s not the only one. Even in the United Nations, certain achievements has been made if you know it’s all the difficulties from Africa in certain areas like in Chad _________. So you need to say this, I will always believe there are no ideal structures. You need to take the best from each of the country, from each experience, and then to see how could you apply to your own experience.

MS: OK. I have to acknowledge that I don’t know about that agreement and I have to look that up.

VP: Oh, yes, yes. Have a look. It’s very interesting. I think it was done in 2003 and 2005 when they started to cooperate and the Europeans, they can make their own arrangements, how they want to cooperate. But they’re trying also to learn from the United Nations, not only United Nations, to learn from Europeans where they have this European Economic Commission, you know…

MS: Yes

VP: … in Geneva. But they also want to see how it’s going on.

MS: You were in Geneva for several years weren’t you?

VP: Oh, I was for nine years in charge of this European headquarters and the Chechen disarmament negotiations.

MS: That I knew, but I didn’t quite know exactly when.

VP: I was Secretary-General of the Conference for Disarmament.

MS: Yes. I knew that. I just didn’t know the years.

VP: My presence with _________, first of all, convention on the prohibition of the chemical weapons. And then the most challenging for me was the treaty on the prohibition of the nuclear tests. We made it in 1994, 1996, in three years we made this treaty which is still, unfortunately, not yet…

MS: Ratified?

VP: Not yet rat…

MS: What do you think the prospects are for some kind of change? My impression is that things have pretty well stalled — disarmament things, for example, the NPT. I don’t see much movement there and for so long the CD wasn’t able to accomplish a lot, if anything. I mean I’m sure you did some things.

VP: You’re absolutely right. Now disarmament is in a very difficult situation, I would say, even in crisis situation, because proliferation of the nuclear weapons is becoming one of the major hot threats today to the world that you know now we have eight nuclear states and there is a possibility that the nuclear weapons could appear in some other countries. So something should be done. A lot of criticism is going of the conference of disarmament but I will _______ of course the rules and procedure are not easy, what type of concern is there and so on, and it’s only 32 countries. But still for me the major problem is not the machinery, it’s not the conference…

MS: Really?

VP: No. Because you know, for me, the Conference of Disarmament reminds the car. You have a car, not bad, maybe it needs some kind of improvement, but everything depends upon the drivers. Drivers ________________, also have a good driver. But the major problem with the Conference of Disarmament is that the rules are closed by politicians.

MS: Yes

VP: The rules are closed by politicians. There is no political bill today to go to disarmament. And more than that, armament sale becoming a very prominent business. And here I can see, you know, that we need to have a new look actually at the whole problem. We completely forget that when the United Nations Charter has been signed, the Charter does not speak about disarmament, only once.

MS: I didn’t realize that.

VP: Oh, only once. The major concept of the United Nations Charter is not disarmament. Disarmament was in the League of Nations Charter. But United Nations Charter speaks about regulation of armaments which is less than arms control but ________. But you know what has happen, when the General Assembly has met for the first time in 1945-46, Americans introduced this Baruch plan.

MS: Yes

VP: This was a time when Americans has applied their nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Moscow had started secretly to develop its nuclear weapons and Baruch suggested the idea of arms control.

MS: But wasn’t that all going to be done through the UN?

VP: Yes, yes. He insisted.

MS: That sounded like still to this day it would be a great breakthrough.

VP: Yes. Baruch insisted on the arms control and arms control is not present in the United Nations Charter at all, This word is not applied. Baruch suggested Moscow was very much afraid that arms control would mean the establishment of the control of their atomic weapon programs. And they suggested then to divide this problem of disarmament which contained in the League of Nations Charter. That’s why I suggested today to return to the original idea of the United Nations regulation of armaments. And we have already eight regions of arms regulations which is less than general and complete disarmament but which is first of all non-proliferation prohibition, then chemical weapons prohibition, biological weapons prohibition, nuclear tests. We have four agreements on the export of weapons and so on. So we need to rewrite this arms regulation and concentrate on the strengthening of the regime of arms regulation and of course keeping in mind that in the long run, we need to achieve the general and complete disarmament but it could not be achieved in the new generations, probably it will take some time. But what is very important to start to work along the regulation of armament and strengthen existing limits. But for this, we need the political will. Political will is absent and here, I think, with all the experience the Cold War has showed… First of all, certainly today parliamentary structures could be very helpful. Even in the Cold War remember the parliaments – the Canadian parliament, Americans, they listened to this method, they maintained pressure on the government, they think parliaments should become very much involved in this process and pushed the governments to the practical limits. What is very dangerous today is not only that they do not work. They provide a lot of the words but no deeds. And as I mentioned European says, ideals do not work without deeds. You need to start to make the deals. Here parliaments could be really helpful. And I think this also public organization in _________, as you mention this Dartmouth, Pugwash meeting, they tried to keep it but…

MS: My impression here talking with people in the Pugwash group is that it’s pretty defunct here and in most places, of course, since Jo Rotblat died. One thing that we in the Canadian group, we have a campaign, so to speak, to go to the countries that belong to NATO but that do not themselves have or want nuclear weapons and say, we think, if one or two of those (I think there’re five countries in that group who do not have nuclear weapons of their own but who belong to NATO) and that’s an incoherent policy because if you belong to NATO, you are committed to the NATO doctrine which is a nuclear doctrine – and say ask them, one or two of them even, to insist that these nuclear weapons be removed from their soil and that they do not want to be part of a nuclear strategy for NATO. And some of us think that if that happened, it would create a public discussion everywhere. I think people simply… It’s not on anybody’s radar screen – nuclear issues. What do you think of that policy?

VP: I think it’s the right policy but I think it’s also… I like this idea because I think really important to understand that today we live in a completely different world. We use, you know, old words but the reality’s so different. First of all, we have a new world architecture. We speak for example, in old terms about NATO but look at trans-Atlantic relations; there’re completely new. If we want to have these trans-Atlantic co -operations, we need to have the cooperation of the European Union, Russia, which is actually Europe in the east, and United States, which is Europe in the west, to develop the new formula. In all these matters, NATO should be involved. And of course, NATO has outlived this. I was the first Russian ambassador to NATO in 1992 and I remember even at that time the question has arrived because NATO had been created for particular purposes. The question was to change the status and to make some kind of new trans-Atlantic cooperation between this new…

MS: Personally, I wish there were no NATO. I thought that when the Cold War ended, the obvious thing to do would be to take it apart.

VP: In the sense that Russia should become then a part of the NATO

MS: Exactly. Either keep it or let…

VP: ___________ published a document , the famous Russian generals who participated in the second world war like Marshall Sokolovsky, Nevsky[?]. In 1953, they insisted to join the NATO and instead of making this closed military organization to make up some kind of military club for cooperation and exchange ___________. But what NATO is doing, it’s creating a lot of problems today. NATO is one the major factors which prevents, you know, for us to move towards arms regulation ________ about disarmament. The things should be changed. You should not be afraid of the names. The question is what is behind the names, how it works, what kind of nature. It should be some kind, as I say, it should be _______ for trans-Atlantic cooperation.

MS: What I want to do, I hope that next week I will be able to see Mr. Gorbachev.

VP: Oh, very good.

MS: He has in… Of course, he continues to be passionate on nuclear disarmament and to continue to work that way. I think two years ago, or three, he went to London and made a public presentation with Joseph Rotblat. And twice I have tried to bring him to Canada for a speech to the foreign affairs committee of parliament with the idea that if he would speak about nuclear weapons to this foreign affairs committee it would maybe have some influence within parliament. I think he still has… He has far more credibility in the West than he does in Russia and I have an immense respect for him. And I hope to be able to say to him if I have the chance to meet him this coming week that what I want is —. I tried this twice before but the timing wasn’t right. I think parliament was not in session at the right time or something like that, and I want to try again because now with this Canadian initiative, which is trying to influence all the NATO countries to renounce nuclear weapons as a strategy, he could speak to that issue and I think he could have an influence.

VP: Very good. That’s very good. And more than that. He’s very much interested in this issue. I participated with him; we had a meeting in November in Budapest. It was a meeting of some European countries and so on and he take a strong point. I advocated this issue for arms regulation and I understand he was some two or three months ago in Harvard.

MS: Was he?

VP: Yes. They have some kind of discussion also. But what I want to make clear, if you make this emphasis only on disarmament, it would create the wrong impression. The people would go, “we need to speak about disarmament as a final aim but today to strengthen the existing degree of arms regulation, which includes of course as a top priority NPT, a nuclear…

MS: Do you speak to him sometimes?

VP: Sometimes, yes.

MS: Yes. Because I hope that if we don’t get to see him next week, I don’t know, you know it’s always hard to get through to him, I’m sure, but I really would like to try again to get him to Canada because I think that would be an approach. And perhaps you can suggest something that I should include in this conversation because certainly I would be talking about the NPT. He would too automatically, for sure. What else should be discussed in that context I’m not sure.

VP: I would say, first of all, to provide, as you rightly said, the NPT. Second thing, to put into the order or to give a voice to this nuclear test ban treaty Nuclear tests should be put under the regulations which have been worked out in Geneva. It would be very important in the nuclear field than to strengthen — . I’ve also very much concerned about chemical weapons. Chemical weapons, of course, is working, there is an organization, but we need also to keep an eye on the situation with the chemical weapons and biological weapons and then this [transfer in?] _______ and some other issue which deals with the export of weapons.

MS: You said a word I missed there. This transfer of what?

VP: Of weapons.

MS: Yes. Transfer of weapons. All right.

VP: Yes. To put it under control. You could get this by the way in my report. I will write it down.

VP: It’s in the Institute of Europe. It is translated in English. I will make a presentation in Geneva, where they made this translation. In Geneva you could see this. You can obtain it in the Russian Academy of Science. You know what I call it the ‘triad of strategic security” because I’m developing now the idea that we’re entering a new Europe which is characterized by what I call the global society. Global society which is multi-polar. It’s multi-lateral in which it’s a lot of [participants] – governmental, non-governmental, trans-continental and we need to organize to take into account this new architecture. And in this new architecture, we need, first of all, to provide this comprehensive approach to the security, to create the security known in military terms but also, as I say, as a security from hunger, diseases, [environmental?]. Secondly, to provide the force of law rather than the law of force which is present today. And the third thing which is tremendously important — what I call responsible constitutional democratic governments because the United Nations made the big mistake, from my point of view now I can say, when it developed the concept of good governance. Because good governance is not the answer to the demands and totalitarian, authoritarian regimes claim good governance. Good governance should be constitutional ________________, not only democratic but democracy based on the law __________________. And if this _______ will be applied, we could provide strategic security. Security needs a vision not only for today but for tomorrow. Security should have a strategic vision.

MS: I have one thousand percent agreement with you. Absolutely.

VP: That’s why you call it strategic security approach. And by the way, what I like at a certain point both European leaders and Russian leaders all spoke about strategic security but they never have opened the brackets [that stands?] behind this strategic security. And they think, of course, strategic means looking into the future but then to make it clear that security for the future needs to have these three colours.

MS: I am so hopeful about Obama because he has already, in Congress, offered bills on non-proliferation, nuclear non-proliferation, and he already was committed, his website shows he’s already committed to abolition of nuclear weapons, probably not tomorrow but in the future. And I was surprised to see that McCain actually said the same thing.

VP: Yes. McCain said the same thing.

MS: And with the “gang of four”, the US former secretaries of state and defence, you know Kissinger, and Shultz and Perry and Nunn, I think, they have all been writing to, twice I think, they’ve published articles in the Wall Street Journal.

VP: Yes, yes. And Kissinger is very active.

MS: Kissinger, yes.

VP: I was, last year, in New York with a meeting with him and he’s very much in favour of this strategic triad.

MS: Perfect, all right. So where can civil society or… Well, how can a group such as Pugwash or anybody else within my range contribute?

VP: I would like to tell you I strongly believe what this what is very much in demand today — the role of the civil society. And it is not the luxury. It is a necessity because, you know, for the governments… I myself was in the government those many years ____ ministry here in Moscow, and when they make the decisions, to find the right decisions you need to have an opponent. When you have an opponent, it’s easier to work out your own thinking. It doesn’t matter that he will agree with you but it will help you to create. That’s why I say that’s the necessity for us. We need to encourage that.

MS: You say an opponent. You need an opponent.

VP: You need the opponent, yes, because you don’t…

MS: I’d like you to expand on that. That’s an interesting idea.

VP: Like in the academic community, I remember, in the Soviet Union when everything was under the strong control that the communist party and everything ______________. We have developed a good relations with the academic community, and we have a discussion and brainstorming was always helping to find approach. We need brainstorming today, and, unfortunately, it is lost and the academic community should play a more important role. I remember, in Canada, I remember it was in Montreal I met this – she was a brilliant _____________, at that time she was professor of psychology in Montreal.

MS: Really?

VP: Yes, yes. So I say you need the people. I just mentioned here sometimes you need the people who go to the governments, who take the position and plus you have brainstorming. It’s very important and very important that academic community should involve the governmental officials, those who involved in the policy-making. That’s very important and that’s why I think that’s what meeting would be very helpful with Pugwash, ___________.

MS: Well that’s my sense — that we need to revive that kind of activity more with… I mean, I’m only involved with Pugwash groups but I’ve mentioned it, for example, to Sergei Kapitsa that I thought we needed to look for additional… Well, of course, people are getting old and dying so many of the Pugwashites are no longer with us. We need new, really energetic, thoughtful people with big mouths, you know, who speak up.

VP: Exactly what I call brainstorming. We need the brainstorming to discuss. It doesn’t matter you need ___________, not at all. But whenever you have the brainstorming, you always clarify your mind and you always try to take the good reviews. It’s very important.

MS: OK. Well thank you for saying that because this is my conviction that that effort needs to be revived and that we need to put more energy into making that happen and that it sort of dried up in the most recent years.

VP: Yeah, dried up. And this is too bad because, of course, the world has changed but we need to take the best with us

MS: I had the idea that if Pugwash, for example, would take climate change as another issue that they could recruit scientists who know the issues and…

VP: And not neccarily to call it Pugwash. Maybe to start some of the new meetings but this meeting should come from Canada. Canada has a very good standing and it’s country which always played the middle of the road looking for harmony. Not necessarily Pugwash because it’s ___________ but to start, I don’t know, some new initiative and the Canadian parliament could play an active role. I participated at some of these? world parliamentary union meetings and I met some interesting people but they need to also to have some kind of organization. Their voice should be heard.

MS: Well, let me work on that [laugh]

VP: Yes, yes.

MS: I would like to work on that.

VP: You start to invite these parliament, [members of parliaments?] to invite some people. Academic communities here in Moscow now, there are attempts being done to improve the role of academic community because this is very important. This is the brains and what is in demand today, they say, it’s not only economy of the market but economy of the knowledge.

MS: Exactly, yes. Yes, absolutely. Well what would you say…? I mean I do have some contacts with a couple of political parties in Canada. They’re not the government. They’re not in power, but I can talk to, for example, you know shadow foreign minister, Stephane Dion, and members of the NDP. And I think the Greens have some small representation in parliament, not much, but they would be, I think, inclined to want to encourage that kind of thing. Could you participate?

VP: With great pleasure. With great pleasure. Still, I would say, I feel very much that this is the time and we need to search for the ideas.

MS: I think I’ll need to…, your reference to arms regulation, this is not a concept that I think is current.

VP: Exactly. It is forgotten.

MS: It’s not only forgotten but I would myself need to, you know, try to imagine how to make that more concrete. What in, specific terms, would that… If I went around saying Mr. Petrovsky wants arms regulation, somebody is going to say what do you mean by that exactly.

VP: Yes, yes.

MS: Certainly… Well, for example, I know Doug Roche very well. I’m sure you…

VP: Doug Roche, yes.

MS: He focuses very much on the NPT.

VP: Yes, yes. Doug Roche yes. But then you have also very famous senator. He was also very much involved in disarmament. He wrote once about, I forgot his name, sorry. The names since becoming very difficult.

MS: Oh me too [laugh]. It’s embarrassing sometimes. I can’t think of who you might mean but… Well, one person now is Kim Campbell who was the Prime Minister for about five minutes in Canada and she’s active in some of these groups. And I think in Doug Roche’s organization. He has a group of progressive countries that want to support disarmament. I think I should have a conversation with Doug about this terminology “arms regulation”, because that’s not something I’m ready to go out and try to give speeches about.

VP: Yes. But he could go also to the United Nations Charter. It’s a charter _____. The main aim of the member states of the United Nations is to have an arms regulations [commission?].

MS: That would look like a bunch of multi-lateral treaties that would… additional ones… What specifically would you be promoting beside this NPT and CTBT which…

VP: But also, you know, creation of the nuclear weapons free zones which also very important because there are certain regions like Africa, South-Asia which declared themselves nuclear free zones and we to need to provide an Antarctican one. We even forgotten, by the way that though it is not _____ but de facto outer space is also nuclear weapons free zone because according to the existing treaties, the appearance of nuclear weapons is prohibited.

MS: Well, would you be saying revive the ABM treaty?

VP: ABM, yes.

MS: So that would affect these things in Poland and the Czech Republic. That would prohibit that would it not?

VP: Yes, because it’s what Americans are doing in Czechoslovakia and Poland create an additional, not only for Russia but also from the viewpoint of nuclear policy. So we need…

MS: And fissile cut-off treaty? Fissile material cut-off treaty?

VP: Yes, fissile material cut-off treaty.

MS: That would all be part of this…

VP: Exactly

MS: …concept of regulation?

VP: Yes, surely. All the existing arms regulations, everything. But of course to remind about disarmament but disarmament not the aim for tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. It’s the aim for the future.

MS: How is that going to apply… Well, let’s ask it this way, how could you sell that to countries like Iran and North Korea?

VP: But also to explain to them how it’s dangerous to have the nuclear weapons. Yes, it’s also….

MS: That doesn’t seem to have impressed them so far [laugh]

VP: They’re not impressed. But still too sad that if they feel they alone they’re isolated from other the other world, they need to apply because they’re interested in nuclear energy, but we need to guarantee the peaceful use of the nuclear energy, but to be sure that there is no [nuke there?]

MS: So really, you’re not looking for any kind of shift of the NPT as far as access to nuclear power. I mean that bargain would stay in place.

VP: Iran, for example, for the Middle East, we need to create a nuclear weapons free zone because Israel also represents a danger.

MS: Do you think that’s a possibility? I mean…

VP: No, not a possibility but it will put all of them in the same situation we speak about because Middle East is potentially now one of the most dangerous places. We speak about, for example, Middle East only in terms of Iran but we forget the Middle East and we forget that the Kurdish problem is more dangerous than Iranian problems.

MS: I hadn’t thought about that.

VP: Oh, Kurdish is very serious cause it was forgotten that when Saddam Hussein came to power. He killed thirty thousand communists but Moscow closed their eyes to this because we had economic interests. But this Turkish party first organized the movement and the movement is not only part of a well organized movement and they want to create the Kurdish state. And Kurdish state twenty-six million people which live today in Turkey, in Iran, in Syria and Azerbaijan.

MS: And you see that as a real military operation, that somebody’s going to start a war to get it?

VP: You never know. You never know. But we need to prevent these explosions because nuclear weapons are very widely spread. That’s why it’s the time for actions but these arms regulations ________.

MS: I can’t see that first on the agenda is going to be Israel because you can’t get anybody to talk seriously about Israel’s nuclear weapons. Nobody in the west is going to even scold them for that.

VP: No, that I understand. But to keep it in mind it’s also…

MS: Yeah, it’s definitely in my mind but it’s not… I would say that’s a big obstacle.

VP: Yes, yes. So I think you raise very interesting issues. The issue’s today is not only what is to be done but how. This is the major issue, how to start to move the things.

MS: You know I think the real problem is that people really no longer believe that nuclear weapons are real — let alone chemical or biological weapons, that’s just not real. If asked, the public opinion is always against nuclear weapons. They want to get rid of things worldwide and this is true even in the US. I think the only country — There was a recent survey and I think the only country that didn’t want to get rid of nuclear weapons was Israel. Public opinion still is, they’re happy with theirs. But I think that what needs to happen to get people exercised about the issue and I think, personally, my approach to changing culture is to.., I would love to see a television series, a drama. Let’s say two brothers; one guy works down in the missile silo and has the key. The other brother is an anti-nuclear activist and they go fishing on weekends and have you know personal lives in the story but every week you see a reference to these weapons in the story. Now this would make people aware that these are real, that they’re still there, and they’re important, and we could have a debate between these two brothers about the importance of these nuclear weapons and what might happen.

VP: Yes, you are absolutely right. Discussions are going on and we need to remind them of _________happen of you take the strong attitude it would be easier for you to explain it but we need to have the debates and the public at large also should hear about this ________. That’s why by the way the United Nations now with this _________, we have now the office in Hiroshima.

MS: You have what in Hiroshima?

VP: We have an office United Nations just to draw the attention of the people to what could happen if the nuclear weapons are applied. They’re applied more than sixty years ago but, you know, you could see what will happen with the new ones. Because today it’s also very important to have these meetings in ____ in the places which could show the example what’s happening, not ________ but for the example…

MS: Yes. Mayor Akiba came to Pugwash. I was in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, I guess a year and a half ago or maybe just last year, just last year I guess, for an extraordinary session on nuclear weapons. So they brought about thirty nuclear weapons experts and he was — he and Dhanapala — were both present and Dhanapala is the new Pugwash chair. And Mayor Akiba of course represents this Mayors for Peace movement and it apparently is quite strong. They have many thousands of locations throughout the world where mayors have joined in this. I wonder if this Mayors for Peace thing is working with this office in Hiroshima.

VP: I don’t know.

MS: He’s the mayor of Hiroshima.

VP: Yes because mayor of Hiroshima was very much, in the past, very much active. I remember in my times, I was there in Kyoto. They always keep this program of nuclear weapons very much in the public eye.

MS: I would like to see ways in which we could again… Of course, Pugwash has always been a movement that worked behind the scenes. It has never tried to influence public opinion. I think what’s need now is much more influence of public opinion.

VP: Public opinion and parliamentarians. Parliamentarians for _________ the political realm. And maybe when I’m thinking, it seems to me, you know, if you use the word Pugwash, it would be reminder of the Cold War still and the Cold War… Yes.

MS: That’s a possibility.

VP: Now the new approaches, we need to start, say in Canada a new — I don’t know – a movement in some…

MS: That’s a very interesting point.

VP: Yes, it would look…

MS: Well, the other organization that I’m active in is Science for Peace…

VP: Science for Peace, yes.

MS: …which is a much more public organizations. We have about three hundred members and of course you don’t have to be a scientist to belong and that kind of group might be a more promising way of organizing some sort of forum, public forum on these issues and inviting people from Russia and from, you know, the UN and Geneva and so on. Maybe that’s how to go about it. I once organized about seven or eight years, or ten years ago I guess I organized an international conference on the lessons of Yugoslavia. It was while things were still hot in Yugoslavia. And there is an organization within the ministry of foreign affairs that provides funding for things of that kind and they funded this conference. And I brought fifteen or twenty specialists from Yugoslavia and other countries for this public forum. It took, you know, there were several hundred people and I think we could do that again.

VP: Yes and what is also very interesting I would like to tell you, I met the people in from the economic ___ who are involved in supporting this arms production but they’re beginning to understand how this spread of the armaments today in the world. And they speak about the reasonable sufficiency which is also…

MS: Really?

VP: Yes. Reasonable sufficiency

MS: Twenty-year-old concept. I haven’t heard it lately [laugh].

VP: Yes, yes, reasonable. Reasonable sufficiency to fulfil your military needs. Maybe this is the first step, the first step to start with reasonable sufficiency so…

MS: That’s an interesting thought. You think that one should have a conference on reasonable sufficiency before addressing…?

VP: By the way, about these matters you could speak to the director of the institute of ______ [Europe?]. ___ [Smelyov?] __________, I think, ten days ago he had big article in Izvestia on the new approach to the military industry where there is an idea of reasonable sufficiency.

IK: There is a lot of interest in Russia to the military industry which is ______ must be, I think, some part of Putin’s team is working on this. That’s what I heard. I’m not really….

VP: Yes. Smelyov. Because two weeks ago, director academician. _________________________.

MS: He’s an academician?

VP: Oh, yes. he now has been elected a member of the presidency. __

He is one of the leaders of the Russian academy of science.

MS: Do you have any reason to believe that this new government is going to have a different military attitude?

VP: But I think there is a certain lessons are taken from the past. We understand that we need to behave in a reasonable way. I always believe that certain things could be started. I don’t know how soon it will start but it will start. I will call myself historical optimist [laugh]. But in a historical sense, the people should take the lessons from the past, both…

MS: And you…

VP: …positive and negative.

MS: You have mentioned the importance of democracy, constitutional democracy.

VP: Yes. Constitutional, yeah.

MS: What is your expectation of the future of that kind of development?

VP: But it also depends very much on how the civil society will participate. First of all, they’re a lot of civil society and secondly, the way we will advocate the democracy. It is very important that constitutional democracy should be used a good example. You should show how this constitutional democracy is ______ and to avoid what is tremendously important today, double standards. Today the culture of the dialogue is very much important, not only dialogue itself but the way you conduct the dialogue and show the good example. From the democratic point of view _______________________ countries could ________ a very good example, you could see how this European process is developing. ___________, they call it the process, it’s all the time in the process of accommodation. It never ends. It doesn’t mean it’s always successful, with the crises and so on, but the process should be continued to the final ____

MS: Sure, but the process is also includes expansion and I’m not so sure how much you want to expand Europe. What do you think?

VP: To expand what?

MS: Europe. The EU.

VP: You know I personally consider that, for me, Europe…, if you look at how we look from the outside world. I remember Voltaire in one of his novels, he looked at us as the inhabitants of one planet and in this planet there are certain continents and Europe is a big continent. The [border] of Europe has been applied initially to the North Africa and South Europe then it has become Europe, but first, the border of Europe was Vienna. Vienna City was the border of Europe during the middle of the seventeenth century.

MS: Fascinating

VP: You could take maps of the seventeenth century. It is very much interesting and the border city was Vienna, the border city of Europe. Then you know this frontier has moved very shortly to the [Volga River?] and now Europe but it’s still very artificial because we live on the one continent which is called Eurasia, whatever it is, but it’s a big continent and we need to develop this continental relations and Europe has started. And I like very much, by the way, Europeans now —. We in Russia always speak of ‘Eurasia, Eurasia’, But Europeans have already created Eurasian organization, you know. They created this ASEAN organization which united Asian and European Union _________ organization and they’re starting to create a wide, big continental entity.

MS: That’s an optimistic view.

VP: But it will take the time. It will take the time. But you know what is going in the world, if you look at the cold history of the world, it was always integration; a different form but integration has developed in a very short time. Go to ___ and you will see how, from this old period how it developed. And today especially, the world is becoming very much interdependent.

MS: It is such a refreshing thing to talk to you because I’ve had some… I’ve been interviewing a number of people. I’ve been here about a month now and I have another week before I go home and I’ve interviewed a number of people who I think are really feeling very protective of Russia and afraid of some of the world outside that is manoeuvring against… They perceive that Russia is beleaguered.

VP: Oh, but Russia needs to start to develop the new relation because in interdependent world, we need to become pragmatists. Like, you know, in the business, competition exists between the different countries and we need to start develop the new approach to the national interest. We should define the national interests not only in economic but in social terms and also to put the national interest within this global context. And to start to work, it’s a new globe which is open to all…

MS: Absolutely wonderful. I a thousand percent agree. When I first started to come to Russia, it was in the early eighties and there were lots of meetings. Because of the Cold War people were nervous and there were meetings organized and there were lots of contact. And I found there were many people here who were very opened to peace research particularly and looking for solutions on the same terms that I was doing and my friends were doing in the West and that, you know, has stopped. People can travel so people could individually go and have meetings but there’s not the kind of organized forum that there used to be. And I have felt, to begin with, that a renewal of that kind of process, those dialogues, could be very helpful.

VP: Very helpful, very important. The major thing is that the dialogues should be oriented towards the deeds, in other words.

MS: Towards what?

VP: Towards the deeds.

MS: Deeds.

VP: Not only polemics but the polemics will accompany—. That’s very important because if it would be a lot of polemics, it would be a different effect. Today to show, even look again when Europe was bigger. You go to Europe, __ the younger generation, they don’t even remember how difficult was relations between France and Germany. But now you go to __________, __________, to Trieste, there is no problems at all and we need to see it how the things are changing and the changes are for the better.

MS: And those things you’re going to be doing in Geneva now on this trip are related to promoting this kind of vision?

VP: Yes.

MS: And how does that work? What in fact can you do?

VP: So we will have the meeting. There will be big meeting on the role of diplomacy in this new world.

MS: Who are the other participants in that meeting?

VP: Oh, it’s a lot of participants from different countries because it’s United Nations because today the interest for diplomacy is very great because diplomacy doesn’t belong anymore to the States. Diplomacy is very much in demand among the businesses and in civil society.

MS: Yes and organizationally, I don’t know of anything that does that integration. You know I’m not a party to any group or organization that brings together business people — certainly academics and politicians sometimes, but business people, that’s not happened in my world.

VP: But as I see it, I strongly hope, I’m very glad I met you because your country could be very helpful. Canada today, it’s a bit outside, but it again enter into the politics. And to show its approach, you also could give a good example from your country from the history and so on.

MS: Of peacekeeping, anyway, and we’ve stopped that. Canada’s at the bottom of the list now as far as peacekeeping is concerned. Shameful [laugh]

VP: Yes, yes.

MS: Well, I keep looking for ways in which I could contribute and that would be maybe a way in which I could do something. Perhaps I’ll get back in touch with you and from your end, you can think of people and ways of making some sort of dialogue happen.

VP: Very good. OK.

MS: That would be wonderful. Wonderful. Well, thank you.

VP: Thank you very much.

MS: I have enjoyed this so much.

VP: Me too.

MS: [laugh]

VP: Unfortunately, I do not have my visiting card but…

MS: Do we have… you want to put it all down?

VP: But you have my phone number.

IK: Yeah

MS: Let’s take the address too.

IK: He’ll mail it to us.

MS: He’s at the… Mail would get to you at the Institute of Europe?

VP: No, my daughter has mail and she has…

Audio file

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See also
Vladimir Petrovsky (Under Sec Gen. UN), 1993

The Russian Quest for Peace and Democracy, by Metta Spencer, published by Lexington Books