Dangerous ex-KGB leader and president of an enemy state? Or a man on a mission to finally normalise his nation’s relations with the rest of the world?
Russian President Vladimir Putin undoubtedly puts his nation’s interests first. But over the past months, he’s met with US President Donald Trump and German President Angela Merkel to propose closer economic and diplomatic ties with the US and EU.
Russia and China are also mending fences, with the two nations engaged together in joint war games.
And in ongoing negotiations with Japan, Putin has made the bold proposal that Russia and Japan should sign a much-anticipated peace treaty before the end of the year. This would finally bring a formal ending to hostilities from the Second World War.
Japan appears to be responding favourably to Putin’s interest, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe organising numerous meetings with the Russian leader. And as AP report, the two countries are now closer than ever before to solving this historical dispute.
Putin is eager for pen to be put to paper, and for the negotiations to be done afterwards. He revealed as much at an economic conference in Far East Russia.
AP reports Putin addressing Abe directly, saying;
‘Let’s sign the peace treaty — not now, but before the end of the year, without any preconditions…later we will continue to talk about all of our disagreements as friends on the basis of a peace treaty.’
Abe appeared amused by these words. And he did admit it is ‘not normal’ that Russia and Japan are yet to sign a peace treaty.
He went on to say:
‘Both President Putin and myself…share the same position and determination to solve our territorial disputes…and to that end we need to meet more often and figure out common positions.’
A joint economic zone
For many years now, different options have been floating around regarding how to resolve the conflict once and for all. A more significant venture involves making the southern-most Kuril Islands — known as the Northern Territories in Japan — a joint economic zone.
But can such a discussion be put off indefinitely in the name of peace?
Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan, Yoshihide Suga doesn’t see this as a viable means of action. Though he refused to comment on Putin’s words, he insisted that Japan wants the Northern Territories issue resolved ‘before any peace treaty remains unchanged’.
But if and when this peace treaty does come into fruition, it could lead to a wave of positive change across the globe. After all, it’s always advantageous to have one of the world’s nuclear superpowers seeking global peace.
And this coexistence could evolve to a peace-seeking team working together to combat crises like those in Syria and North Korea…as well as any others that will no doubt surface in the years to come.
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