"Deep distrust between West and Russia"

There is deep distrust between the West and Russia and it will not disappear quickly, a panel discussion in Belgrade has heard.

Source: B92
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Participants in the gathering, organized by the Center for International Relations and Sustainable Development (CIRSD), also said that the responsibility for the current situation in Ukraine lies on "both sides."

"Nothing is the same as two decades ago, when the Soviet Union collapsed. The West has in the last twenty years underestimated vital interests of Russia, and this got pushed to the forefront with the Ukrainian crisis," said the president of the French Institute for International Relations, Thierry de Montbrial.

"We all bear some responsibility for what is happening in Ukraine today. However, it must be stressed that the country has historically been a very sensitive issue for Russia, and the West underestimated that. Moscow will not easily give up on its own interests and I do not expect trust between the two sides to be established soon. I'm afraid northern Kazakhstan could be a new conflict spot," Montbrial said during the discussion late on Thursday.

Faculty of Philosophy professor and former foreign policy adviser to the Serbian president Leon Kojen also took part and said that two conditionswere necessary to resolve the Ukrainian crisis.

"It is necessary to introduce some form of decentralization of the country, which would mean considerable autonomy for eastern Ukraine. It does not have to be federalization. I think the second part of the deal could be an agreement between Moscow and Kiev for Ukraine to, for example, veto its membership in NATO for the next ten years," said Kojen.

The CIRSD panel also presented a new magazine, Horizons, the focus of the new edition being on the relationship between the West and Russia in the current world order. Former Serbian Ambassador to Germany Ivo Viskovic, who recently participated in the Munich Security Forum, said "everyone there blamed Russia for the situation in Ukraine."

"It was obvious that more than 90 percent of forum participants blamed Russia. I was more than surprised by the vehemence with which some U.S. senators and congressmen performed. They were saying, 'Lavrov is lying, Putin is lying'. Russia feels threatened because it has come to its borders, and the situation in Ukraine is not black and white, there are no angels and devils," said Viskovic.

The participants of the panel moderated by CIRSD head Vuk Jeremic also concluded that Russia was "responsible for not helping carry out reforms in Ukraine during the rule of Viktor Yanukovych, but instead protecting his tycoon-oligarchic style."

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