14 August 2008

Latvia Strongly Supports Georgia

The strong statement on Russia's invasion of Georgia by the heads of state of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland has been followed by a vote in the Saeima, Latvia's Parliament. The Saeima voted this evening for a very harsh resolution condemning Russia for its aggression against Georgia -- a resolution with teeth (thanks primarily to Sandra Kalniete, one of the leaders of the Popular Front in the Singing Revolution, a writer and diplomat with extensive EU experience). Among other things, it calls upon our Government to continue to push for Georgian NATO accession, to ask that the EU reevaluate the EU-Russian partnership (including visa restrictions), and to ask NATO to strengthen security and security guarantees for Russia's neighbors. It also asks for clarity in future EU expansion, so that those countries implementing reforms know the score (and urges visa liberalization for candidate countries).

SC (Harmony Center), the ostensibly "moderate" coterie of pro-Moscow MPs, walked out and did not participate in the debates, leaving a handful of PCTVL radicals who have vowed to defend Abkhazian and Ossetian interests as the only MPs opposed, making inane arguments ("in the current economy we must think of our own people first" rather than antagonize innocent Moscow) whilst amendments giving the resolution its teeth passed with large majorities.

Considering the fact that the parties in power and New Era rarely agree on anything, the unity in this special session was remarkable (despite some sniping). The vote was 64-4 with 1 abstention. Bravo!

The photograph is from the demonstration in support of Georgia that took place in Latvia's capital on Monday -- more photos are available at Apollo, whence I filched this one.

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7 Comments:

Blogger Baltic said...

"Considering the fact that the parties in power and New Era rarely agree on anything, the unity in this special session was remarkable"

Aye, aye Pēteris", and when Eastern neighbor is sabre rattling behind the gates even customarily disagreeing Latvian MP's can agree on smth.:) Just the Latvian MP's loose momentum as usual... End is good, all is good!

p.s. When Kalvitis&Co will have to be accountable to their GAS bosses, how will TP vote then?

15 August, 2008 10:14  
Blogger Pēteris Cedriņš said...

Oh, I definitely agree that the gas clouds did not part and we won't be headed for unity, liberty, political decency and European civilization starting from last night! It's just that I was getting gloomy enough to think that this Parliament couldn't get it together even for an instant, even if the cossacks were to ride in with whips and Bermondt-Avalov's army crawled out of its graves. Russian saber-rattling last year still meant a ludicrous delay over the punctuation of the resolution supporting Estonia, for example. It's not at all certain that we'll carry out what we've undertaken in our declarations -- but at least there was a flicker of consensus for a change.

15 August, 2008 10:45  
Anonymous Snork said...

Frankly, I can't understand why Latvia must “strongly support” each and every country that happens to have a quarrel with Russia. Obviously, in this case it was Mr. Saakashvili who started the mess. I really don’t see much difference between Milosevic’s actions in Kosovo, Putin’s war in Chechnya, and Saakashvili’s adventure in Ossetia. And really, why haven’t we seen any similar declarations over, say, endless French meddling in its former African colonies?

It is incredible that so many people tend to Latvia’s national interest as opposing Russia whenever possible – even when common sense and economic realities dictate otherwise. It is obvious that Saakashvili is no less responsible for the war than Medvedev and Putin. It is equally obvious where Latvia’s economic interests lie. Yet Saeima – motivated by the usual knee-jerk reaction against the Russian bogeyman – is giving unqualified support to Georgia. Can anyone say what exactly we gained from this gesture?

16 August, 2008 15:49  
Blogger Pēteris Cedriņš said...

What was it that William L. Shirer wrote in the 1930s about how difficult it was to understand why all of these little countries wished to be swallowed one by one? I hope we won't repeat that mistake this time. Opposing renascent Russian imperialism is in our national interest and should be at the top of our agenda. See Marko Attila Hoare's article, "Czechoslovakia 1938 - Georgia 2008?"

16 August, 2008 16:00  
Blogger drivenwide said...

Latvia and Estonia have over 25% and The Ukraine has a little over 17% of its population claiming Russian ethnicity. Luckily, or the benefits of spreading democracy, none of those countries currently have much more than a few small groups claiming to be mistreated and in need of reabsorption. The European Council is gravely concerned by the open conflict which has broken out in Georgia, by the resulting violence and by the disproportionate reaction of Russia. This conflict has led to great suffering on both sides. Military action of this kind is not a solution and is not acceptable.
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20 October, 2008 05:24  
Blogger Russian President said...

So, Russia invaded Georgia? And you have democracy in Latvia, which is an independent state?

20 December, 2008 20:08  
Blogger Pēteris Cedriņš said...

Yes, Russia invaded Georgia.

Yes, Latvia is an independent liberal democracy. Like all countries, it is also interdependent -- and like all democracies, ours has its flaws. There is little sense in attempting to compare a flawed European democracy to Russia's murderous neo-totaliarian bardak, however, of course.

21 December, 2008 11:15  

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