CONFERENCE IN VILNIUS MARKS NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN CIS
NAIRA HAIRUMYAN

Lragir.am

09 May 06

The international conference `Common Vision for Common Neighborhood'
in Vilnius somehow passed unnoticed by us. It was the first big
event, organized by the Community of Democratic Choice. The core of
this organization are Ukraine, Georgia and several other countries
which have chosen the path of democracy or have carried out a `fruit
or flower' revolution. Analysts said this organization may gradually
come to compete with the CIS. Especially that the representatives of
Georgia and Ukraine are already considering seceding from the CIS and
joining NATO. It is notable that one of the maintopics of the
conference was the ways of protecting the South Caucasus from Russian
influence.

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney addressed the conference, accusing
Russia of an antidemocratic policy and intervention with the affairs
of its neighbors.

The key accusation was the use of energy for political coercion. The
statement of the conference puts it clearly that Europe should support
democracies in Eastern Europe, having the prospect of joining the
EU. It was suggestedto develop a common approach of the West towards
Russia. Official Brussels is advised to set up close ties with
Kaliningrad to relieve the international isolation of this region,
imposed by Russia.

In the meantime, the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made
interesting statements. She advised Russia to recognize the lawful
interests of the United States in the post-Soviet territory. Most
analysts define this as a preparation for the G8 Summit to take place
this summer in Saint Petersburg.

Apparently, there are going to be great rows. Aspirations are not
concealed. An insight in the energy policy of Moscow is enough to
understand the imperialistic moods in this country. Moscow is doing
everything to bar NATO from the post-Soviet territory. This policy is
especially apparent in Armenia. The evidence to this is the increased
price of gas, the `seize' of several important units of the energy
sector by Russia, as well as intensifying Russian propaganda in
Armenia and even in Karabakh. If in the past 15 years even the Russian
NGOs were reluctant to be present in Karabakh, presently an event is
held in Stepanakert every week on the money of Russian
foundations. Even the Azat Artsakh Newspaper publishes a loose leaf
entitled Russia Today.

Why should Russia need to control the situation everywhere and fight
against the West? It is hard to understand. Once the former president
of Russia Yeltsin made a sensational statement that Russia could
easily join NATO. It caused a shock in Russia and beat the arguments
of Russophobes in the West. The tense relations between Russia and the
West calmed down, but President Putin not only brought back tensions
but is also increasing pressure day by day.And this cannot but result
in a clash.

The Washington Post writes that the West has already come to
understand that it is pointless to persuade Russia to be democratic,
and prefers issuing an ultimatum in the form of advice to Russia. At
the same time, the Wall Street Journal reports that before Cheney's
anti-Russian statement Bush had had meeting with the heads of
non-democratic Eastern countries, such as the president of Azerbaijan.

The Russian foreign minister Lavrov reminded that bloodshed was
prevented in Moldavia and Georgia and the territorial integrity of
these countries was maintained thanks to the Russian peacemakers. It
is interesting to know who gave the evaluation, either positive or
negative, that the territorial integrity of these countries was
preserved. But was it preserved at all? When we asked a Russian
political expert why the entrance of one country or another to NATO
would be dangerous, he said it would mean loss of sovereignty. How
about the Baltic states, we enquired? He found it difficult to answer.

Maybe he started to doubt that the danger of NATO is a post-Soviet
myth, imposed on Russians, as well as Armenians.

It is reported that certain arrangements on the principles of
resolution of the Karabakh conflict might be reached in the G8 Summit.
However, judging by controversies between the Minsk Group co-chairs,
this time the peace talks are likely resemble a race `who can run
farther.'

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress