In German, long-lasting conflicts are often referred to as “smoldering conflicts.” The conflict between Russia and Ukraine after 2014 is undoubtedly one of them. So is the conflict in Israel with Hamas.

According to the dictionary, a “smoldering” fire is when a fire burns slowly without an open flame.

Was the conflict in Ukraine after 2014 really without an open flame? Was the conflict with Hamas over so many years really without an open flame?

These conflicts were not smoldering but burning brightly. There would have been enough time to negotiate these conflicts. The negotiations could have been conducted quietly and without a big stage. Instead, people looked the other way and waited. The hope was that the conflicts would somehow be resolved. But they didn’t.

I must admit that I feel a particular frustration. Over the last few years, we have presented a negotiation concept for a government to resolve a known crisis. This concept is now lying somewhere in a drawer; it has been passed around from ministry to ministry. We were told that there was no urgency for negotiations at this time.

We saw a fire that was burning brightly; the government merely saw a “smoldering conflict.”

The Iran nuclear deal, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Turkey’s accession to the EU, the escalation in Kosovo, Switzerland’s framework agreement with the EU…The dire is burning brightly.

My appeal to politicians: negotiate while negotiations are still possible.

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