Streetwise Professor

July 16, 2011

All at Once, Everybody: Awwwwwwwwww

Filed under: Energy,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 2:32 pm

The German Quadriga Foundation has cancelled this year’s ceremony during which Vladimir Putin was to receive the foundation’s reward standing for freedom and democratic change.”  Apparently many German politicians, members of the German human rights community, and former recipients of the reward had somehow gotten into their silly heads the idea that Putin didn’t deserve a reward for “commitment to innovation, renewal, and a pioneering spirit through political, economic, and cultural activities,” and for those “whose courage tears down walls and whose commitment builds bridges” and who serve as “role models for Germany” and are “role models for enlightenment, dedication, and the public good.”

Yeah.  You say all that stuff and I assure you that the first name that pops into my head is “Vladimir Putin.”

Former recipient Olafur Eliasson (a Danish-Icelandic artist) handed in his prize in protest yesterday.  Vaclev Havel said he would return his if the foundation indeed gave Putin the reward.

As for the political backlash in Germany, it was intense:

Government human rights commissioner Markus Löning said the choice undermined the Quadriga award, which will be handed out on the Oct. 3 national holiday celebrating German unification in 1990, and others questioned Putin’s democratic credentials.

“It is downright cynical to award Putin the Quadriga prize and put him in the same group with Mikhail Gorbachev and Vaclav Havel,” Löning, a member of the Free Democrats who rule with Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s conservatives, told Der Spiegel magazine’s online edition. “It devalues the prize.”

Former Soviet leader Gorbachev and former Czech President Havel are among previous winners of the award.

Löning’s objections were echoed by a senior lawmaker in Merkel’s conservatives. Merkel herself has criticized Putin over human rights in the past.

Erika Steinbach, chair of the parliamentary committee on human rights, said she worried about lasting damage to the award first presented in 2003. It was inspired in part by former U.S. President Bill Clinton during a visit to Berlin.

“If the award’s committee doesn’t send a strong signal for human rights and revoke its decision, the Quadriga prize will be permanently devalued,” Steinbach said of the award that is popular in Germany but little-known abroad.

The initial decision represented Germany at its at-your-feet worst, which, sadly, is all to characteristic of its relationship with Russia, as this long RFE/RL piece makes abundantly clear.  The explanation has to be largely psychological, rather than economic.  Yes, there is energy, but a rational response to that dependence would be to take steps to mitigate it, but Germany–even under Merkel–have time and again done the exact opposite.  The irrationality of this actually reinforces the psychological interpretation.  And insofar as economics is concerned, Germany is a colossus, and Russia a dysfunctional dwarf.  If you think the latter statement is an exaggeration, consider this:

Germany sells more to the Czech Republic alone than to Russia, while imports from the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary amount to 40 billion euros ($56 billion) a year, compared to only 15 billion euros from Russia, including its energy [emphasis added].

French dealings with Russia are largely venal.  German dealings are far different–and far more cringe-inducing–than that, but apparently giving an award to Putin was going too far.  It’s a start, anyways.

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  1. Unlike Havel, Putin doesn’t support aggressive wars on false pretexts.

    Good for Putin not to be associated with Havel as their are indeed of quite different moral stature.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — July 16, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

  2. Sublimely obnoxious, as usual.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 16, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

  3. They gave it to Gorby(?), that already undermines the prize. Oh wait, the clowns at Nobel did the same thing too lol

    Comment by Surya — July 16, 2011 @ 5:45 pm

  4. Professor, why do you fight the inevitable Russo-German pact once we debase our dollar to the point we can’t control Europe through NATO anymore? I know, I know, keeping the Germans down and the Russians out consumes such a teeny tiny fraction of American GDP. But it all counts now.

    Comment by Mr. X — July 16, 2011 @ 5:59 pm

  5. SUBLIME LIAR ought to study Russian history at least a little. Putin supported a naked war of aggression against Georgia and has been convicted over and over and over again for state-sponsored murder, torture, rape, kidnapping and other vile misdeeds in Chechnya by the European Court for Human Rights. His response has been to try to oust the EHCR’s jurisdiction from Russia.

    Putin is one of the most violent and aggressive of all world leaders, which is no surprise given his status as a proud KGB spy.

    The mendacity of SUBLIME LIAR knows no bounds.

    And, of course, the TOTALLY IGNORES the LEGION of others besides Havel who have condemned Putin across Europe, clearly showing the absolute failure of his foreign policy.

    Comment by La Russophobe — July 16, 2011 @ 6:41 pm

  6. Wow, the Fourth Reich slaps its own satrap in public. His goose is cooked, methinks.

    Comment by So? — July 16, 2011 @ 11:14 pm

  7. > Unlike Havel, Putin doesn’t support aggressive wars on false pretexts

    True: unlike Havel, Putin actually wages such wars.

    Comment by Ivan — July 17, 2011 @ 12:17 am

  8. Ivan, excellent point!Sublime idiot, again, stupid!

    Comment by voroBey — July 17, 2011 @ 1:06 pm

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