Estonia's recently-installed president, Toomas Hendrik-Ilves, has used his opening address at a parliamentary conference to lambast 'old Europe' for its fear of new EU member countries.
At the 'Values and Interests in International Relations' conference, held in Tallinn on Oct. 30, Ilves said that "today European values have come under serious pressure inside the European Union and even more so in our immediate neighborhood."
Ilves spoke both of the ever more mounting criticism of the so-called 'old members' towards the countries that joined the EU in 2004 and of the undue unconcern of the so-called 'new members'.
"There is no reason for arrogance or complacency," President Ilves said, and called on the European Union to defend and help those in the neighborhood of the community who are striving for democracy and freedom.
"We have no right to look down on others if they don't express themselves as well and as diplomatically as we would wish. Just a short time ago also in Warsaw, Budapest, East Berlin, Prague, Bratislava, in Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn, leaders were clumsy, sharp and too demanding," President Ilves said, recalling the story of Eastern and Central European liberation.
Ilves called on the European Union to understand that "nearby, in Europe's immediate neighborhood today are people who risk their lives and their freedom in order to defend fundamental European values." "They are threatened by forces that are stronger than they, forces that are more stable, with whom it is always easier to strike a deal, invite to our country, and to whom we can sell our goods."
"We, the politicians of Europe, must become less selfish. Both in the so-called 'new' as well as in the 'old' member states. It is true for all of us.
"But the so-called 'old members' also need to realize that the departure from their Eastern borders of the tank divisions of the Warsaw Pact does not mean that what happens on the other side of the border of the European Union no longer concerns them."