Supporting peace, trade with Russia & civilised discourse

14 November 2017

The Right Honourable Winston Peters
Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Foreign Affairs
Parliament House

Dear Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters

Congratulations and thank you for the great pivotal role you played in bringing about the new government. We are delighted with the way the government is seeking to remedy social, environmental and economic problems that have grown under National. We are also delighted with the plan to reopen trade negotiations with Russia. Many EU countries regard America’s sanctions against Russia as against international law. Also, the 2017 report by UN Special Rapporteur Idriss Jazairy on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on human rights does not support sanctions. Unilateral sanctions are not the answer to the crises being faced in the world today, and the international community should not impose them, Idriss Jazairy has said. “States resort to unilateral sanctions to coerce other States to their will, but innocent victims bear the brunt of the suffering.”

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has criticised the latest US sanctions against Russia saying Europe is concerned not only about economic consequences but about unintended consequences that “could lead to a new ice age between Russia and the West.” Foreign Minister Gabriel has said new US punitive measures expose European companies involved in energy projects in Russia to fines for breaching US law. “We deem it absolutely unacceptable when a bill demands that Europeans give up on Russian gas so they could sell American instead, at a much higher price,” the Foreign Minister has said. Germany’s Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries has even urged the EU to retaliate against the US if the new sanctions on Russia should end up penalising German firms. “We consider this to be a violation of international law,” Minister Zypries has said. “The Americans cannot punish German companies because they operate economically in another country. There are (partnerships) for natural gas and petroleum pipelines.”

France also has said the sanctions “contradict international law” due to their “extra-territorial reach.” Italy has lost €11–12 billion in exports and 200,000 jobs due to the sanctions. Russia is the closest and most suitable market for Italians.

Italy, Hungary, Greece, France, Cyprus and Slovakia are among EU states skeptical about the sanctions and have called for a sanctions review. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said Europe “shot itself in the foot” by introducing economic sanctions. Former Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said: “I don’t know how Russia is affected by the sanctions, but Bulgaria is affected severely.” Czech President Miloš Zeman and Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico also have said the sanctions should be lifted. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said Greece would seek to mend ties between Russia and EU through European institutions. He also said Greece was not in favour of Western sanctions imposed on Russia because they risked another Cold War.

In 2017, the UN Special Rapporteur Idriss Jazairy on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on human rights, published a report on the impact of sanctions. This reported that EU countries were losing at least €3.2 billion a month because of them. It also noted the sanctions were “intended to serve as a deterrent to Russia but run the risk of being only a deterrent to the international business community, while adversely affecting only those vulnerable groups which have nothing to do with the crisis” (especially people in Crimea, who “should not be made to pay collectively for what is a complex political crisis over which they have no control.”

Of recent years, I and many others have become alarmed by mainstream media in NZ and abroad with their unquestioning acceptance of this century’s ongoing wars in the Middle East perpetrated by the US-led West. These wars have destroyed many countries, killed millions of innocent, people and created tens of millions of tragic refugees that most aggressor countries shamefully refuse to help. America spends more on its military than do the next eight countries combined and continues to threaten other countries, some targets now being Korea, Russia and Iran. This leads in a terrible direction for global security and in the last year the risk of nuclear war has increased, with the Doomsday clock moving from 3 to 2 ½ minutes to midnight. New Zealand has a respected role in the world community for its nuclear-free policy and as a peace-maker, rather than war monger. Seeking civilised discourse, good relations and trade with Russia makes far more sense for global security rather than the economic and military warfare practised by the US.

On Sunday November 12, Lisa Owens interviewed Trade Minister David Parker on TV3. I was particularly appalled at the way she challenged Minister Parker over the potential trade deal with Russia, suggesting it wasn’t appropriate to trade with Russia as it was not suitable for “liberal democracies.” However, it is questionable that the US, being the most war-mongering aggressive nation on Earth, is a liberal democracy, particularly as it has illegally bombed, assisted by unquestioning allies, several defenceless countries over the past 16 years, killing millions and creating millions of refugees. And the demonization of Russia and President Putin by American propaganda is very dangerous. Russia is not the problem in the world.

The Pacific Institute of Resource Management, founded in 1984 in Wellington is dedicated to promoting sustainable use of the earth’s resources and peace and justice issues. We publish the journal Pacific Ecologist, and make submissions to government. I have sent a similar email to Trade Minister Parker on this.

Yours sincerely

Kay Weir, editor Pacific Ecologist
The Pacific Institute of Resource Management

P.O. Box 12125, Wellington 6144,
Aotearoa New Zealand
Phone 64 4 939 4553

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