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FINDING A VOICE

Aug 13, 2008

FINDING A VOICE
In their support of Georgia, they Baltics have shown a courage and strength of spirit that has been rarely seen since the countries regained independence.
Various media reports all tell a different story about what is happening in the Georgia. None of them can seem to agree on what is actually happening, or how justified Russia was in its attack.

Some say that Russia was responding to a humanitarian crisis in South Ossetia and trying to prevent one in Abkhazia. This is best exemplified by the televised (and clearly staged) meeting between Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev in which the prime minister 's who recently returned from a trip to the region 's said something along the lines of "Mr. President, this is genocide. You need to act."
Media outlets hailing from countries allied with Georgia, meanwhile, have taken every opportunity to lambaste the Russian government for what they see as an unwarranted attack on a sovereign nation.
As is usually the case, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. While Russia may have had a just cause to intervene in South Ossetia that almost certainly did not give the country a mandate to attack mainland Georgia, bombing civilian facilities and transport infrastructure.

As far as the Baltics are concerned, that's not the point. Georgia is a close ally of the Baltic states, and the three countries have consistently championed Georgia's cause. The countries have been close friends.
When Russia attacked, that friendship was put to the test and the Baltics passed with flying colors. The joint statement issued by the three countries, plus Poland, condemning Russia's actions was one of the strongest statements from any country in the world. All three countries have offered not only strong diplomatic support, but large shipments of aid.

The heads of state from the three countries joined numerous leaders from other ex-Soviet countries in a trip to the region. The deputy speaker of the Estonian parliament even went so far as to call for Russia's expulsion from the Council of Europe.
Politicians weren't the only ones to offer a show of support to the war-torn country. In a mass popular movement, hundreds of protesters in each of the three capitals of the Baltic states poured out on the streets to show their support for Georgia and demand that Russia immediately pull out of the country.
Baltic politicians knew that this would deeply sour Russian relations 's relations which were not particularly good in the first place. Foreign ministers from the three countries have admitted as much.

Russian Ambassador to Latvia Alexander Veshnyakov could barely contain his indignation with the Baltic response to the crisis. In what amounted to a barley veiled threat, the ambassador said that Latvia stood to make "serious mistakes" with its support. When asked at a press conference about Latvia's possible military support, he said that "if Latvia agrees, [the consequences] will be very bad."
The people of the Baltics are nervous. Some people are even scared that they may be next. Not necessarily now, but 10 years from now.

The spirit of courage lies in being nervous about the consequences 's in being afraid of what might happen 's and standing up for friends anyway. The Baltics knew that such strong support for one of their allies in the face of Russian aggression could leave a permanent stain on their relations with the country.
But they did it anyway.
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