© Mikhail Voskresenskiy, RIA Novosti
Wolfgang Schüssel
The unipolar world as we know it is moving to its end, Wolfgang Schüssel, Austria's Chancellor in 2000-2007, told RT at the Valdai forum. Russia is to play a major role in the new order, but at the moment the Ukraine crisis dominates the country's image.

What is your opinion about the European sanctions against Russia? Are they fair and useful or not?

First of all, there was a story before the sanctions. We were absolutely surprised with what happened in Ukraine. There are always possibilities for independence or secession, but according to the Helsinki Charter it must be negotiated peacefully and remain within the agreement of the respective country. This did not happen. The sanctions were the response. I think [the EU] tried to calculate and to balance it so that the response would not to be damaging the economies too sharply. Nevertheless, there are some consequences to be felt, in Russia and also in Europe.

The most important thing in my opinion is how to restore a positive, upwards-leading cycle of confidence-building measures. Sunday will see elections in Ukraine. Hopefully they will bring to power moderate politicians like President Poroshenko. On Wednesday an agreement on energy deliveries from Russia to Ukraine could be negotiated, under the moderation of the European Commission. And then we should strengthen the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine and guarantee local elections there to be held in accordance with the Minsk agreement and the Ukrainian legislation.

After that I think everything could move in positive direction. It is still difficult. Just a few sparks would be enough for the fire to break out again. As an optimist, I hope this would not happen. But it is a really difficult situation. I think Europe, Russia, the EU and Ukraine can and should demonstrate we are doing better than other parts of the world - look at the Middle East or Asia.

If the situation in Ukraine is positive, will the sanctions be canceled?

I am sure. Much hope is stored on Minsk agreement, but today it is relatively shaky. Everyday people die in eastern Ukraine, which is really tragic. But if both sides do feel it works, I am sure they will start moving in that direction [of cancelling sanctions].

In your opinion what is the role of Russia on the economic and political arena?

It is an interesting question because we are moving now to a new era. There is no hegemony anymore, no unipolar world, no country can dictate everything. We are going to a multipolar world, and things become much more complicated and not so easy to handle. But this is something we should adapt to.

Russia of course plays an important part in it. Russia controls nine time zones, has enormous resources - and is our neighbor. You cannot change your family, your territory or your neighborhood. So we are born neighbors and we should show the world that we could live in a good neighborhood. If the present crisis in Ukraine could be settled in a positive way, then I think the doors will open again for a partnership.

The name of this forum is 'World Order: New Rules or No Rules?' Is it a good question? What direction are we moving to?

Let's leave the 'no rules' option aside as it is no option at all. We had it centuries ago when we had no rules at all. This was an anarchic world with no guarantees, no stability, and with much more wars and casualties. At that time 200 people per 1,000 people would die from the hands of other people. Now it is less than one per 1,000. So we are living in a more peaceful world and this is because we have rules - Helsinki Charter, for instance, OSCE, the UN Charter, International Court of Justice, WTO. So we have rules and let's stick to them and strengthen the multilateral institutions.

There are some areas where we need more cooperation dictated by challenges: non-state actors, terror threats, cyber threats, health pandemics, environment, economics, etc. Next year we mark 40 years of Helsinki Charter. Probably we could use this opportunity to discuss these new challenges.

This interview was originally published on