Slavisha Batko Milacic
The hybrid format international conference, held on November 08th under the auspices of an independent expert platform Our Days News (ODN), brought together experts from Italy, Estonia, France, Finland and Montenegro . It was already the fifth such event held to discuss the problems of modern-day Europe, including the trend towards the rehabilitation of Nazism in the Baltic countries, the rise of totalitarianism in Europe, freedom of speech and human rights, the Ukrainian crisis and the possibility of a peaceful end to the conflict, as well as the situation in Palestine.
Our contemporary world is in a state of turmoil amid the rapidly changing political picture of the globe. Many experts agree that today we need to talk not about a world of “post-truth,” but about a world of “post-reality.” While in the former case the choice, limited as it was, was still there, in the latter one it simply does not exist, because a source of tension and conflict can emerge anywhere in the world, leading to the death of thousands of people. Suffice it to mention the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The tragedy happening right before our eyes is unfolding according to its own scenario, and there are doubts that even the political elites have no idea how to solve it. This conflict, which had been simmering for a long time, finally flared up. While previously the point of discussion was the rights of Palestinians living in Gaza, now it is about their physical survival. Hicheme Lemichi, geopolitical analyst and Secretary of the Geneva International Peace Research Institute GIPRI (France), spoke about the causes and consequences of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
When asked by the moderator Marcus Goodwin, who noted that Palestine and Israel have been at war since 1948, how come the Israeli, US and European intelligence had been unaware of the October 7 attack, Hicheme Lemichi said: “I think there are few reasons. One is that Hamas had been preparing this kind of attack for almost two years due to the degradation of the Abraham Accords, resulting in the Palestinian issue being completely forgotten. The success of the attack is also due to the fact, that Israeli intelligence and the Israeli army are no longer the formidable force they were 20 or 30 years ago. At the same time, I can also imagine that the Israeli government was more preoccupied gathering intelligence about the evolution of Iran’s interests in Syria and in Lebanon, thus missing out on what was happening in the Gaza Strip.”
Come Carpentier (France), head of the editorial board of World Affairs, added, “I would just like to add that there are two very interesting elements to be taken into account. One of them, as you noted, is the role of Qatar, and what the Hamas leadership’s policy is based on. Qatar is closely connected with, or is even an ally, of Turkey. Therefore, I guess that even if they had played no role in what happened, these two countries probably had prior knowledge, at least some, of what was about to happen. Secondly, there are critical interests of certain gas companies. And finally, there is an issue that has never completely gone away – the problem of a new canal that the Israelis would like to build between the Mediterranean and Red Seas, bypassing the Suez Canal, and which would actually run across the territory of Gaza. Obviously, Israel’s strategy now is to cut off the north of Gaza from the south. And then, perhaps, at some point they will start digging that canal, which would give Israel additional strategic importance and very significant income.”
Then I (Batko Milacic) also expressed my opinion about the war in Palestine: “it is absolutely impossible that the Israeli army and intelligence services did not know what Hamas was up to. I think they had a plan; they needed it. I believe that the Palestinian people face a sad future. The main question is whether they [Israel] are going to ethnically cleanse all of Palestine, or just part of it. Please remember what we had in Nagorno-Karabakh, where ethnic cleansing was carried out. The Azerbaijani army had close cooperation with Turkey, but also with Israel. Also, while we are following the war in Palestine, at the same time the situation in the Balkans is becoming more and more tense. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, we have the trial of the president of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, while in Kosovo we had an armed conflict. In my opinion, while the war in Ukraine lasts, there will be no conflict in the Balkans, but after the end of the war in Ukraine, a conflict in the Balkans is possible. The situation in the Balkans must be monitored.”
Lina Heitlin, journalist from Finland: “As for the Hamas attack on October 7, I think they saw that Israel was spending a lot of resources on Ukraine, sending a lot of ammunition, providing intelligence, etc. But Hamas is not the only one who sees this – all African countries are rebelling. The fact that Russia launched a special military operation is a great thing because it opened the door for other oppressed people”.
In his report, Tiberio Graziani (Italy), Chairman of Vision & Global Trends – International Institute for Global Analyses, emphasized, “We live in a world, which is going through a complete and accelerated transformation; this transformation is very clearly reflected in the field of international relations. Tensions between conservative forces seeking to maintain their dominion and the growing weight of new global players are shaping, quite dramatically, current international politics. If we recognize the strength and legitimacy of these new global players, then territories that could become “arcs of crisis” will turn into potential “islands of peace and cooperation” as part of a new world order. There are those in the United States who have questioned their country’s role in a multipolar world; among them Professor Jeff Sachs, a Harvard University economist and member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and political scientist John Mearsheimer, who belongs to the realist school of thought. It’s worth mentioning here what Sachs wrote in his April 13, 2023 article entitled “The Need for a New U.S. Foreign Policy”: “The aim of U.S. foreign policy is a U.S.-dominated world in which the U.S. writes global trade and financial rules, controls advanced technology, maintains military superiority and dominates all potential competitors. Unless U.S. foreign policy is changed to recognize the need for a multipolar world, it will lead to more wars, and possibly World War III. Professor Sachs reminds us that the US has just 4 percent of the world’s population and lacks the economic, financial, military and technological capacities to dominate the other 96 percent.”
The conversation also focused on human rights in the Baltic countries, including the political situation in Estonia. Oleg Ivanov, leader of the Estonian KOS party, emphasized the importance of peaceful coexistence of different ethnic groups within Estonia and the need for mutual understanding and respect between peoples. He also noted that the media play a big role in covering certain problems in the world, placing “emphasis” on certain issues. “I would say basic media in the world is supporting the Palestinians at the moment. Even quite many big companies of media, big companies of the world are supporting the Palestinian people. And nobody, absolutely nobody is like saying or watching or speaking about the human rights of Russian local people living in Estonia for 30 years, which have been discriminated, by the local authorities, which are being non-citizens of their countries and the human rights of these people are of course at the zero point. It is the first aspect. The second aspect is that if we are speaking about the, let’s say, military company which is going in the Palestine, if we are comparing the speech of Estonian authorities, of Estonian government concerning the Ukraine and concerning the Palestine, you will see also the big difference because the Estonian government is always speaking that Russians are killing civilian people and now, they have to speak the same issue about the Israel army killing the civilians of Palestine. And now they are in a very, very big, difficult situation. They have to speak the truth, but they cannot speak the truth because nobody is giving such a command to them. That’s why it is quite simple to compare the speech of the Syrian government or the Baltic State government concerning the Palestinian civil lives and if we compare with the civil lives of Ukraine, and of course…not mentioning the civil lives and the human rights of the Russian local people living in Baltic states”.
The entire conference can be listened to at the following link: