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The world would collapse without Uncle Sam2008-11-17 09:32
So believes Lithuania's President Valdas Adamkus. On 13th November he decided to congratulate Barack Obama on his election victory.
"I believe that we will resume our partnership, in which supporting democracy in Eastern Europe plays an important role, with the new administration," stressed the president in his congratulatory telegram. "This can be seen in the firm position shown by the US Democrats over Russian aggression in Georgia. Obama's victory is important for the whole world, which needs decisive leadership from America in the fight against global threats."
We can only guess as to whether Adamkus genuinely meant what he was saying. Baltic society, just as Saakashvili's administration, supported Obama's rival John McCain to the very end. A sense of disillusionment befell them - after all, a death sentence had been signed on Bush's policies. For a time the USA has slackened its efforts to maintain freedom throughout the world. At the moment the gendarme of democracy has a political vacuum: the old administration has not yet left, whilst the new one is waiting to start. Adamkus seems to have become bored without his master.
On the same day Georgia's Minister for Reintegration Teimur Yakobashvili declared that his country was counting on the EU to apply significant pressure on Russia during talks in Nice on 14th November. "Russia is continuing its policy of legitimising the separatist regimes of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region, and does not intend to pull back from striving towards their annexation and establishing its influence throughout Georgian territory," concluded the minister.
Just as before, Tbilisi wants Europe to pull Georgia's chestnuts out of the fire. But the reality is now quite different. The last few days have shown that Russia has managed to turn the information war in the Caucasus round in its favour. On 10th November foreign ministers of the EU member states spoke in favour of resuming talks on a basic agreement between the EU and Russia. These talks were stopped on 1st September because of the war in Georgia. At that time the Baltic states, Poland, Great Britain, Sweden, Denmark and the Czech Republic were all against this dialogue. In November Lithuania was now the only country to protest. And even then, its mouth was quickly shut. The EU even rejected any symbolic counteractions against Russia. And it hinted elusively that Poland and Lithuania's national pastime of deploying their right to veto would not get them anywhere. In this particular case the unanimous approval of all EU members is not required. Valdas Adamkus despondently admitted that he found it hard to understand the reasons behind this change in position and such consensus among his colleagues.
"Pragmatism and trade interests got the upper hand, while the question of the European Union's core values faded into insignificance," noted the president dolefully. "But this doesn't mean that Lithuania has lost out completely. If Russia does not withdraw its almost ten thousand-strong force from the separatist regions of Georgia, some EU members will not even consider ratifying a strategic partnership treaty."
However, in Lithuania itself many people have a somewhat different opinion. A series of experts have said the following: Vilnius has once again demonstrated that, for the European Union, Lithuania is nothing more than a splinter in an awkward place. A day later NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer provided another unpleasant surprise for Georgia. At a European security and defence conference in Berlin he declared that NATO would not sacrifice relations with Russia over Georgia.