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Cold War is back: German peace activist

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Mathias Rust, the iconic peace activist from Germany, has advised India to maintain neutrality in political issues involving Russia and the European Union member-states. His observations have come in view of the growing military tension between the U.S.-EU block and Russia which, he says, has triggered the Second Cold War in Europe.

“India will be better served if it follows a policy of neutrality while interacting with EU member countries as the big European powers at present are following the foreign policy of the U.S. unquestioningly,” Mr. Rust said in an online interaction with The Hindu.

Mr. Rust became famous when he flew a lightweight Cessna aircraft from West Germany across the Iron Curtain and landed in Moscow’s Red Square on May 28, 1987.

During his air adventure, Mr. Rust crossed over more than 400 miles of the Soviet territory uninterrupted by the Soviet defence forces. As a result of his flight that was interpreted as a triumph by peace activists and a major security breach by the hawks in the Soviet establishment, Aleksandr Koldunov, commander of the Air Defense Command, was sacked by the Soviet General Secretary, Mikhail Gorbachev. The incident also attracted a rebuke from the Soviet Politburo targeting the defence forces for their “intolerable unconcern and indecision.” Marshal Sergey Sokolov, a rival of Gorbachev, also resigned as a result of Mr. Rust’s peace-flight.

After a year-long stay in Moscow which included his trial, Mr. Rust was allowed to return to West Germany in August 1988. Three years later, the Cold War ended when the Soviet Union collapsed. On October 3, 1990 Germany was reunited. But 25 years later, at the eve of celebration of German reunification, Mr. Rust feels that the Cold War has returned, thanks to the worsening political relations between the EU and Russia.

Twenty-five years after the end of the Cold War, Mr. Rust says erosion of mutual trust defines government-to-government (G2G) ties in Europe. That apart, he says that in recent years, European powers have sacrificed on legal rights, democratic freedom and minority rights, hinting that the post-Cold War promise of freedom and democracy that were made to the people of Europe has not been fulfilled. “Governments have been dominated by the corporate entities and citizens have ceased to matter in public policy,” said Mr. Rust explaining that political situation in Europe is fast sliding into a crisis mode.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 7:16:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/cold-war-is-back-peace-activist/article7720749.ece

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