Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Name and Shame

In his January 13 EDM article Baltic Dilemmas and the Moscow Summit, quoting Atis Lejins, head of the Latvian Foreign Policy Institute, Vladimir Socor pointed out that the issue of attendance or non-attendance is really something of a red herring: "the issue is not about going to or staying away from the Moscow summit, but rather about avoiding a trap, as well as about delivering the right kind of message ahead of and during the summit." The trap, of course, is the one set for the Baltic states by Moscow, presenting them with an almost impossible choice: on the one hand, by attending the summit, they lend legitimacy to Moscow by a pretence that Russia's behaviour towards them is "normal"; on the other, by non-attendance, they risk provoking not only a barrage of anti-Baltic propaganda from Moscow, but also a diminishing of support - on issues of military security, border arrangements, transit regulations, citizenship, language, citizenship, etc. - from European partners who are still anxious, mainly for reasons of economic interest, to bolster good relations with the Russian government. All of this has been thrown into the realm of public debate by the Latvian president's decision to attend the summit, while the other two presidents have still to make up their minds.

Now the Lithuanian newspaper Lietuvos rytas, picking up on Socor's analysis, has suggested a method by which the Baltic states could exert some pressure of their own: by following a policy of "naming and shaming" countries which bow to Moscow's demands, the three nations could bring the whole issue to the world's attention in a way that has not previously been possible in the postwar era. In particular, Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schroeder and Silvio Berlusconi would need to be rather careful in their public statements. Indeed, the article suggests, in view of their support for Soviet actions in World War 2, they should be challenged to publicly declare that there was no Soviet occupation of the Baltic states.

(via scb)

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