Europe shouldn’t doze off in another world war – Opinion

Pipes from the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline landing facilities are pictured in Lubmin, Germany, March 8, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

The Russian-Ukrainian conflict shows no sign of abating, largely due to a lack of diplomatic efforts and political will by the countries involved to help the two sides resolve their differences. In particular, the developments of the past few days should worry everyone, as the conflict could further escalate or even spread beyond the borders of the two countries.

The alleged sabotage of the Russian Nord Stream gas pipeline, detected on Monday, is still under investigation. Yet those responsible for the alleged sabotage may have caused a major escalation in the conflict.

The implication of the incident is serious, as an energy expert I spoke with on Wednesday expressed deep concern about its negative impact on prospects for energy security and economic growth in Europe. Germany, the largest economy in the European Union, will be the most affected.

The environmental impact should not be underestimated either, as experts say methane rising from the surface of the sea into the atmosphere contributes massively to the greenhouse effect.

There is also the pressing issue of the safety and security of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, where a colossal nuclear disaster could unfold given the ongoing fighting between the two sides. In fact, at the opening of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s general conference on Monday, which I covered via video link, Director General Rafael Grossi said the issue had become the agency’s top priority. ‘agency.

Throughout my 46 months in Europe, I marveled at the European project and the Schengen visa-free area, which made national borders less contentious. I hope the same success can be repeated in East Asia, where countries are still haunted by the legacy of past wars.

But I was also overwhelmed by the countless memorials, monuments and cemeteries of World War I and World War II and the fact that both started in Europe and claimed the lives of tens of millions of people. What has happened in Europe over the past seven months should warn everyone that they could, God forbid, start another world war in Europe.

I say this because the countries concerned seem to have become blind to reason and less compromising. Moreover, the diplomatic efforts of the first months of the conflict were often accused of appeasing one side or the other.

Some people I spoke to recently linked the Russian-Ukrainian conflict to the “historical rivalry” of countries in the region. While some American and European politicians and political pundits have spoken of a bailout for both sides, the “politically correct” rhetoric in the West today is about defeating Russia, even though many admit that cannot be achieved easily, if ever. .

The Russian-Ukrainian conflict has largely devolved into a proxy war between Russia and US-led NATO. There is no doubt that Ukrainians will continue to suffer the most if the conflict continues. The Russians will also suffer a lot. The same is true for Europeans, given soaring energy prices, high inflation and the impending economic recession. Not to mention the ambitious green transition of EU countries.

But what is often overlooked in the midst of it all is the suffering of people in the rest of the world, particularly in poor developing countries, where soaring energy prices, a looming food crisis and a slowdown economy are gradually becoming an existential threat.

China called for respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, and urged that the legitimate security concerns of all countries be taken seriously.

Could all parties involved give peace a chance? Because dialogue is the only way to find a peaceful solution to the conflict and to prevent another world war before it is too late.

Chen Weihua

The author is the head of the Brussels-based China Daily EU Bureau.