Friday, January 30, 2009

Conflict in the Caucasus: EU shows lack of backbone in handling of Russia.

Post first published as a Letter to Editor in The Daily Yomiuri, Japan on 04 Nov. 2008.
European citizens could be forgiven if they are confused by the recent shift in European Union foreign policy towards Russia and what looks like rapprochement. This summer things seemed simpler. There was Georgia, a new democracy threatened by menacing Russian tanks with civilians caught in the firing line. The EU brokered cease-fire and its six-point-plan was acclaimed by all. For a moment it was as if the EU was going to put a show of unity and resolve against the aggressor or, in other words, to stand for freedom and democracy.

The illusion was short lived.

The resolve has gone with the global economic crisis. In Georgia, the status quo has clearly been accepted by most EU leaders and relations with Russia have resumed in earnest. After Nov. 14's Russia-EU Summit in Nice, France, one thing is clear. The French leader Nicolas Sarkozy, nicknamed "the American" ought now to be called "Sarkozy le russe"! Having put aside the Georgia issue, the energetic tandem flew to the Washington G20 summit united in the fight against the free market. Mission accomplished so to speak. President Chavez must have approved.

When Cato scholar Andrei Illarionov warns that Europeans by resuming contact with the Russian leadership have chosen a course of appeasement similar to what happened in Munich in the 1930s, he may have a point.

It strikes me as ironic that during most of the recent so-called coloured revolutions, the pro-democracy movements should fly the EU flag as a symbol of their aspiration for freedom. For freedom fighters, support will take the form of humanitarian assistance, reconstruction financial packages and elections and border monitoring teams. But security guarantees will not be forthcoming. No EU cavalry on liberty stand-by to fight the Russian bear outside the fortress. Sorry, just a lot of hyper leadership….

More on Georgia, Russia and liberty

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