Adamkus admonishes Europe for being soft with Russia

The Baltic Times

President Valdas Adamkus admonished EU leaders for being soft and losing their confidence in dealing with an increasingly surly Russia.

“If Russia chooses to deal with each member state separately, Europe follows this line of action and that has already started to undermine our solidarity,” Adamkus said during a lecture in London”s School of Economics.

Adamkus said that the West”s benevolence has accomplished little in motivating Russia to improve, and he pointed out that Russia should understand that membership in the World Trade Organization or in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development was not a goal in itself but rather a chance for transformation.

In the president”s opinion, the West needs to have a clearcut answer from Russia on what kind of a global power it wanted to be. “Nothing prevents from posing that question again and drafting EU policies based on real, not imagined, answers of Russia,” he said.

In his earlier interview with The Financial Times, Adamkus had also warned that Russia”s economic resurgence could be driving the Kremlin to embark on a new “cold war.”

“The question arises whether a very strong financial recovery in Russia is a stimulus for the new Russian leadership to return to the cold war,” he told the paper.

The comment sparked a debate on the sidelines on the Davos economic forum and earned a swipe for Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. secretary of state, who said talk of a new cold war was “hyperbolic nonsense.”

The Baltic states are increasingly edgy about Russia and energy dependence in the runup to the closure of the Ignalina nuclear power plant at the end of 2009.

The three states are referred to as the EU”s “energy island” since they are cut off from the continent”s electricity grid. Projects of links with the energy systems of Western Europe are still in the stage of discussions and negotiations.

At the lecture in London, Adamkus stressed that he did not approve of Russia as a monopolistic energy exporter and a creator of problems, implying it had disputes with almost all its neighbors.

The president noted that Russia”s respect for its neighbors” sovereignty, implementation of intergovernmental agreements and troop withdrawal from Georgia and Moldova should serve as a foundation for a new quality relationship between the EU and Russia.