Russian tolerance warning from Estonian president

  • 2008-11-04
  • TBT staff in cooperation with BNS

TALLINN- President Toomas Hendrik Ilves warned Europe about excessive tolerance towards Russia's conduct and dependence on Russianenergy. 

In an interview with theGerman magazine Der Spiegel, Ilves said that "some EU countries will certainlysoon start behaving as if the Russian aggression against Georgia in August never happened."

In his words, he sees that Russia can do anything it pleases withinits borders, such as bombing Chechnya, but outside Russia, the fact that people are free todecide their own future no longer holds since the Russian invasion of Georgia in August.

 Ilves said one should not believe that Russia will calm down if NATO closed itsdoor to Ukraine and Georgia.

"Moscow looks on the former Sovietterritories as its sphere of influence. Should we respect this but not theUkrainians' and the Georgians' decision to integrate into the West?" heasked.

In Ilves' opinion, Estonia with its large Russian populationneed not worry about its security even though Russia justified the incursion into Georgia with protection of the Russianminority.

"Almost nowhere elsein the world can Russians live and maintain their culture as freely as here.What should those people be protected from -- liberal democracy? We need notfear invasion, because we are a member country of NATO," the presidentsaid.

Ilves said the EU shouldoffer more to Georgia and Ukraine to foster the democratizationprocess. He mentioned that it is at present considerably simpler for instanceto obtain an entry visa for EU countries in Russia than in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

"Europe must call a spade a spade and putin place firm rules in interaction with Russia," Ilves said.