Raivis Zeltīts: Geopolitical consequences of Brexit for Europe and Latvia

Undeniably, last week’s main event was a British vote for the British secession from the European Union (EU). This initiative took a contradictory form already months before the vote. In the case of Latvia, the main contradiction is between positive national self-determination principle that is implemented in such a referendum, and our own national interests, which had hitherto been closely linked to the positive role of UK in the EU project. Atlantic orientation of United Kingdom and Central-Eastern European countries in the EU are contrasted with the more or less hidden sympathies towards Russia and its ‘’Eurasia’’ projects of Germany, France and other European powers. British withdrawal process will be long and uncertain, but already it is clear that there has been a significant shift in the balance of power that can change the situation in Europe.

I strongly agree Sandijs Semyonov that the outcome of the vote reflected the mood of many Europeans and frustration with the ineffectiveness of the EU in the immigration crisis, reforms, and any other issues that should be solved. It was also an implicit vote against arrogant policy of Mr Juncker and the European Commission (EC) that forgot that politicians are ultimately responsible in front of their people, not in front of ” humanity ” or ” progress”. West now is really in a great crisis – its cultural and ethnic foundations are being attacked by the globalism. Alvis Hermanis comment on Brexit as a return to Europe as a union of nation states accurately describes the possible solution to the crisis. Ultra-liberal politicians stood against their peoples, so Western nations currently support nationalism. It is a trend that the United States takes the form of Trump’s ”America first ” policy, the British UKIP, the French ‘National Front’ ‘, Sweden’ Swedish Democrats’ high ratings and similar trends elsewhere. Return of nationalism in a new form is inevitability. In the case of Britain the hysterical atmosphere of the ‘’stayers” campaign and the desire to fit all the ‘’leavers’’ in to a category of crazy people did not help. I assume that this is very likely why the result was decided in favor of the ”leavers”. The smart people of the EU should finally have to start learning from the US anti-Trump camp mistakes when they also relied on the false idea that nowadays still it is enough to launch scare campaigns, or to call in bad names the political opponent that is accused of violating any commandment of political correctness. Perhaps it is no longer working. Perhaps it is time to return to the people and begin to discuss the serious issues.

Returning to Brexit consequences for Latvia is to understand what the balance of power shift may mean for Latvia. In the early 21st century, there are very significant processes that in Latvian are relatively little discussed. First, the globalization era is replaced by the de-globalization. Global GDP is growing faster than global trade. As a result, Fukuyama’s ‘end of history’ model with a single liberal world and a single global market is replaced by several exclusive trading blocks that overlaps with Huntington’s civilizations. China around itself is creating ” New Silk Road ” and ” One Road, One Belt ‘initiatives, Russia is trying to consolidate around itself former USSR with its ‘Eurasian Union’ project, while Latvia is part of the Western project, which is currently experiencing major internal changes. Our interest is that these changes do not weaken the West as a whole and thus would not endanger Latvia. European-US relations are important and should be maintained in spite of internal shocks so revanchist Russia would not use this weakness. The risk is that in the EU without the UK relative weight of pro-Russian countries is higher. For example, if in Ukraine a new war-like crisis will take place, it will be more difficult to take any sanctions against Russia. Therefore, both the West and the EU will have to change thoughtfully and wisely to avoid chaotic and dangerous change. Constructive nationalism will have a role to play in this process, because without it the people will turn to populist nationalism forms.

In the new situation, the US will continue to seek to prevent the creation of a continental power, which has always been the goal of Russia. Therefore, between the Russian-oriented France and Germany, the United States will need to strengthen the Central and Eastern European region, the so-called Intermarium, which is also in our interests.

On our geopolitical interests, I already once wrote [1]:

1) Latvian independence fully depends on the US and its military alliance of NATO interests in the fight against the Eurasian continental state;

2) The US-Russia conflicts from the geopolitical point of view are inescapable, while France and Germany are always going to look to Russia as a potential ally;

3) The US will seek to strengthen the ‘cordon sanitaire’ – countries between the Baltic and the Black Sea in order to prevent the potential of the Paris-Berlin-Moscow axis. Poland and Ukraine by its population, space and resources is a major obstacle to the realization of Russia’s geopolitical interests. Germany and France our region, at best, will not be active in defending us from Russian efforts to show us as’ failed states’ with a ‘revived fascism’ ‘, at worst – they will help to strengthen this image, as it happens, for example, the case of Poland.

So it is in Latvian geo-political interests to:
1) strengthen its relations with the United States as a world power, whose interest is to limit Russia;

2) Strengthen the relationship with our regional allies – the Baltic countries, Poland, Ukraine. To strive to involve Belarus in such an alliance in order to prevent the isolation of the Baltic region;

3) With a wise precaution to look at the potential Russian allies in Europe. Of course, there are always a need to maintain good relations with the rest of the EU, but not to sentimentaly rely on all EU countries as our democratic friends who will never let us down

After Brexit it is particularly important. We need more than ever to look for the friendly allies in the EU countries in our region. The question of Intermarium the creation of one or the other format is topical for some time. President of Poland Andrzej Duda has declared: “I won’t agree to a dictate of the strong. I won’t back a Europe where the economic advantage of the size of a population will be a reason to force solutions on other countries regardless of their national interests.” [2] In his inaugural speech, President Duda announced his plan to establish an alliance between the Central and Eastern European countries. [3] A similar foreign policy priority is for the President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović whose conservative Croatian Democratic Union won Croatia’s parliamentary elections. What are our foreign policy priorities? Intelligence Company ‘‘Stratfor’’ a year ago predicted that Europe will not be able to exist as before. Regionalism and nationalism will return. Europe will consist of four blocks: Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and the British Isles. The EU could continue to exist, but in a more decentralized and democratic model. [4] The Latvian foreign policy should be more proactive; we should set new priorities, take into account the global trends with the forecast for several years ahead, and not just respond to EC actions that in fact may be in conflict with our national interests.

[1] The Latvian geopolitical interests, Raivis Zeltīts


[2] Poland’s Duda Blasts EU ‘Dictate of the Strong’ on migrants Wojciech Moskwa, Piotr Skolimowski BloombergBusiness, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-09-08/polish-president-blasts-eu-dictate-of-the-strong-on-migrants

[3] Duda’s Mission: Recover Pilsudski’s Intermarium and Giedroyc’s Commitment to Ukraine, Matteo CAZZULANI Centre for Global Studies “Strategy XX!” http://geostrategy.org.ua/en/komentari-ta-ocinki/item/800-misiya-dudi-povernennya-do-kontseptsiyi-mizhmor%E2%80%99ya-yuzefa-pilsudskogo-ta-ideyi-ukrayinsko-polskoyi-spivpratsi-ezhi-gedroytsya

[4] Armin Rosen. Stratfor has 11 chilling predictions for what the world will look like a decade from now

Business Insider http://www.businessinsider.com/stratfor-has-11-chilling-predictions-for-what-the-world-will-look-like-a-decade-from-now-2015-6