Why is it that the Baltic States 's those three small nations whose only real defense lies in their alliance with the great Western powers 's now seem to be the only ones bold enough to take a stand against Russia?
During his election campaign, French President Nicholas Sarkozy regularly attacked Russia over its poor human rights record and increasingly belligerent stance toward the rest of the world. He promised to take a hard line on Russia, and to do his part to bring the country in line with international norms.
It did not take long before Sarkozy's promises were put to the test. Despite pledges to raise the Georgia issue at talks on a renewal of a prominent Russian-European agreement in late June, the EU failed to even mention the topic. Russia launched its invasion of the country less than two months later.
Admirably, Sarkozy put on a diplomatic face and became the driving force behind a peace deal and a six-point plan to end the conflict. Now it seems he liked the role of mediator a little too much, and will bend over backwards to appease Russia's demands.
Sarkozy even went so far as to criticize the proposed U.S. missile shield. Whether the shield is actually a good idea or not is beside the point 's Sarkozy, who now hold the rotating presidency of the EU, irresponsibly became the most outspoken allied critic of the shield by saying that it will not make Europe safer.
Now, by pushing for renewed talks with Russia, the French president has not only yet again sought to satiate a belligerent bear, he has betrayed his own campaign promises and undercut his own peace plan.
Now it seems that Russia has gotten away with its attack on Georgia with minimal consequences. The only major political fallout from the attacks was reversed, seemingly giving Russia a mandate to do what it will.
The only country bold enough to vote against renewed talks with Russia was Lithuania. While the official stance in Latvia and Estonia was that the EU should speak with a common voice on the issue 's a reasonable stance for such small countries 's many politicians publicly expressed discontent with the talks.
Prominent Estonian politician Marko Mihkelson hit the nail squarely on the head when he said that Sarkozy's inconsistent stance on Russia represents one of the greatest "stumbling blocks" of the EU.
With so many voices pushing and pulling such an important issue in so many directions, it can be difficult to come to a common stance. But once that stance has been announced, the bloc should stand by its ideals and stand by its statements, lest the largest economy and greatest political union in the world allows itself to be morally trumped by one of its smallest members.