Lopata: Bush visit to Latvia would show 'weakest link'

  • 2005-04-06
  • By The Baltic Times
VILNIUS 's A leading political scientist said that a visit by U.S. President George Bush to Latvia in May would be a demonstration of support for the "weakest link" in the Baltics.

Raimundas Lopata, director of the Vilnius International Relations and Political Science University, said on Wednesday that, "Bush's route will show which of the Baltic states is the weakest link. By coming to demonstrate support, the U.S. president would point to the weakest link at the same time."

Reports this week have speculated that Bush might visit Riga before continuing on to Moscow, where he will take part in ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII.

President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, contrary to her Lithuanian and Estonian counterparts, has said she would go to Moscow to take part in the ceremonies.

In Lopata's words, the problem is that Russia often does not perceive signals from the West, and western countries do not realize this. Both sides have failed to come to an understanding on the significance of the "overlapping" of western and eastern structures currently in progress as a result of development of euro-Atlantic institutions.

In other words, Lopata said, the West is penetrating the East to make it open for democracy but actually does nothing to prevent Russia's attempts at restoring its economic, cultural and political influence in the post-Soviet territories and Central Europe.

In this next, the political scientist noted, the U.S. president's visits to Latvia and Georgia would send misleading signals to Russia by clearly pointing to the countries that are the weakest in the process of establishing relations between the West and the East. Therefore, he concludes, Bush's possible visit to Riga and Tbilisi it is not clear why it is the "weakest" links that are disclosed rather than the stronger ones, like Tallinn.

President Bill Clinton visited Latvia in 1994, and Bush visited Vilnius in November 2002.