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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Rising Tide (of Russophobia) Sinks All Russian Boats

As if more evidence were needed that Russia has alienated the entire world, not only is Georgia vetoing Russian ascension to the World Trade Organization, but Poland is vetoing a Russia-EU accord on trade as well. The BBC reports:

Poland has vetoed the start of talks between the EU and Russia on a new partnership agreement covering energy, trade and human rights. The move means that it is unlikely the talks can be launched as planned at an EU-Russia summit in two weeks' time. Poland says Russia must first lift a ban on Polish food imports and ratify a treaty on trade in energy products. Officials say the EU's credibility will be damaged if a common position is not reached before the 24 November summit. Russia supplies a quarter of the oil and gas consumed in the EU, and the proportion is set to rise sharply in coming decades. Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said on Sunday that Russia was violating the current EU-Russia co-operation agreement by banning Polish meat, and many other foods. "We would like EU member states to show solidarity with Poland regarding Russia," he said, ahead of Monday's meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. After Poland wielded its veto, External Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said she hoped that it would still be possible for the EU to go into the EU-Russia summit with an agreed common position. However Poland "has not lifted its reservations," she said. Poland's insistence that Russia should ratify the Energy Charter Treaty - which would help foreign companies invest in Russia's energy market - is no longer shared by all EU countries. Russia has signed the treaty, and the EU has been trying for years to get Moscow to ratify it, without success. The European Commission is now aiming to enshrine many of the treaty's principles into the new partnership and co-operation agreement with Russia, once the old one comes to an end next year.

The Baltics are expressing strong solidarity with Georgia. RIA Novositi reports on the view from Estonia:

The local press has been comparing current Russian-Georgian relations to the Russian-Estonian conflict of the early 1990s. "We have seen this before. When Estonia adopted a pro-Western policy in 1992, Russia assumed a harsh stand toward it and started an economic war, doubling the customs duty for imports from Estonia and accusing it of infringing on human rights. A full-scale propaganda war was launched against Estonia, with attempts to deploy Russian troops in Estonia and block gas deliveries, as well as threats of war. The situation normalized only after Estonia's pro-Western policy became so obvious that Russia could no longer do anything about it." (Diplomatiya, November 4.) Estonian newspapers rule out the possibility of Russia becoming "a Eurasian version of the Untied States." "It would be a gross mistake to think that Russia, with its history, can develop into a modern state unless it embraces democracy, the rule of law and the basic principles of political discretion, and engenders trust. Modern Russia is not sufficiently advanced in these spheres, since the historical development of that mammoth state was complicated by authoritarian czarism and totalitarian communism. The country today is a cocktail of Kremlin demagoguery, oligarchs and organized crime."



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