The summit that on Wednesday will star in Geneva the president of the United States, Joe Biden, and of Russia, Vladimir Putin, will define whether some kind of dialogue between the two powers is possible.
This was the case in 1955 or 1985, moments of great tension and multiple mutual threats, including nuclear, which, although not resolved, yes they appeased in that same Geneva, known to be the capital of peace.
Good offices are part since the 19th century from the tradition of Swiss foreign policy, which has exercised them in multiple circumstances, making, for example, currently represent the interests of the United States in Iran, as there are no diplomatic relations between them.
Of successes and failures
Geneva, the main city French speaking from Switzerland, is seen with appreciation by Russians and Americans, who are very used to meeting in these lands, either for discreet discussions or for political negotiations at the highest level, such as those that have allowed them to advance on disarmament issues, close the treaty nuclear with Iran or agree to eliminate the chemical weapons that Syria possessed.
Some diplomatic attempts that also took place recently in Geneva they were less successful, such as the one that sought to promote a political settlement to the war in Syria or the one that more recently promoted the reunification of the island of Cyprus, both under the auspices of the United Nations, which has its European headquarters in this same city.
The series of Russian-American political encounters in contemporary history dates back to 1955, when the US president, Dwight Eisenhower, met with Russian leader Nikolai Bulganin in the context of a summit in which the prime ministers of the United Kingdom and France, the allies with whom the first country had won World War II ten years earlier, also participated.
Those talks were influenced by the common goal of reducing international tensions and improving global security.
Ten years later, the American presidents Ronald Reagan and the Russian Mikhail Gorbachev they held a series of meetings during which the atmosphere relaxed and the suspicious glances at the beginning were replaced by images of conversations in which both of them smiled in a relaxed manner.
Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, in Geneva. Photo: AP
If both leaders met at that time in a mansion built within a park of more than 80,000 square meters with views of the Alps, Biden and Putin have chosen a similar space: the Villa La Grange, located in the park of the same name, the largest in Geneva and classified as a historical monument.
Switzerland’s diplomatic tradition is thus combined with the atmosphere that it can offer and with its capacity to organize and guarantee safety of this type of event, as it does every year with the World Economic Forum, which is attended by political and economic leaders from around the world.
“The choice of Switzerland makes sense for its long tradition and for offering a space of neutrality in the European context, ”said Professor Robert Legvold, a specialist in post-Soviet state relations at Columbia University.
Biden and Putin will meet at Villa La Grange. Photo: Bloomberg
He recalled that “over time the meetings in Geneva hhave been central to the relationship between the US and Russia and what is associated with them is generally positive, like when Reagan and Gorvachev talked about eliminating nuclear weapons, ”even if they did not do so later.
“If there is any capital where negotiated and advanced It has been Geneva and this since the period of the Cold War and the alliances of NATO and the Warsaw Pact, two blocs of which Switzerland was outside and against which it was neutral ”.
By Isabel Saco, EFE