Ex-president warns of new Cold War

  • 2008-09-03
  • By Monika Hanley

Vike-Freiberga: The much loved former president spoke out of her concerns for the future.

RIGA - According to former president Vaira Vike-Freiberga, the world is headed toward a new Cold War.
Her concern came about after Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's comments implying that the events in Georgia were instigated by the United States at the orders of the U.S. president.
In an interview with the Latvian newspaper Diena, the former president voiced her concerns over the likelihood of an international environment similar to that of the Cold War.

"Their [Russia's] position has certainly become confrontational. I think Putin's remarks that the recent developments in Georgia have been staged and that all of this has something to do with the U.S. presidential elections are a threat to the whole world," she said.
The former president went on to condemn an impending Cold War.

"It is a very serious accusation. If such a sharp confrontation occurs between two superpowers, it means unfortunately that we are sliding towards another Cold War," she said.
Vike-Freiberga voiced the opinion of many current and former state leaders, saying: "Nobody will benefit from this. Confrontation is not what the world needs."

Vike-Freiberga is not the only person to have these concerns. Following accusations from Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov that U.S. humanitarian aid was coming in the form of weapons, U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said that Russia is playing a "very dangerous game" with the United States and its allies and cautioned that NATO would not permit Moscow to win in the Georgian conflict with its breakaway regions.
However, despite the tension, Vike-Freiberga still urges cooperation. "It is better to cooperate 's sometimes with clenched teeth, but it is better," Vike-Freiberga said when asked about the potential threats the current Georgian crisis is posing to Latvia.

In her words, there are people who believe that the Cold War has already begun.
The EU, headed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, called an extraordinary session Sept. 1, and it is clear that there is a split among member states.
"In Europe, each country has its own voice and interests, including economic [ones]. However hopeless the situation seems, they will work out something in the end, arrive at what's essential. It is by no means the perfect scenario, but the EU would not benefit from each country heading in its own direction," Vike-Freiberga said.

"The key is to come to a position that is acceptable to all. It means that each side has to yield a bit," she said.
Vike-Freiberga suggested that Russia may actually be doing the EU a favor by mobilizing the alliance. She sees the likelihood of further cooperation as very slim.
The former president has been silent since the beginning of the conflict, hesitant to come forward despite numerous demands from the public. After releasing a music CD, the president had stated that she wished to avoid politics to focus on her music. But now it seems the Baltics' "Iron Lady" is back with a vengeance.
"Now it is necessary for the European Union to formulate a common foreign policy, because there is a crisis situation. We will have to react," Vike-Freiberga said.