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  Concepts of „abroad“: near and remote neighborhood of Lithuania (1)

Vytautas Landsbergis
2007 06 29

We all know whose intent was to introduce the concept „near abroad“ into the political life. This should have meant not only a geographic zone, but also the zone for establishment of interests, influence and apparent „rights“.

The expansionistic and neo-colonial content of the above concepts was obvious, and the European Council, while admitting Russia in 1996, prohibited application of the concept „near abroad“.  This was kind of an opposition to the diplomatic efforts of Russia to sort the European countries. Later these efforts were expressed in other forms (“Ukraine is our internal problem!”), until recently Russia has again suffered a rebuff in Samara.

However, the concept „near abroad“ revived periodically by competing with the European concept of „good neighborhood“. This is not easy, especially when the Europeans get frightened when  accused for competition. Whereas the Russian policy is based on the geopolicy approaching Europe as „near abroad“ (in the future – as a supplement of the Russian energy-political „heartland“).

Recently Estonia had an opportunity to realize that Russia is its actual near abroad. Near in geographic terms and very remote with regard to political culture.

The attacks of Estonia reminded to me former discussions on the European boundaries. There is civilization, cultural boundaries, there are principles and world-view relations connecting or disconnecting the nations. Unfortunately, the current Russia is outside Europe, it despises the European humanistic commonwealth philosophy and democratic principles and declares that it is and will be different in the future.

The above makes Europe realize that it should be a cultural and political unity. Thus, Russia was told that it was not a neighbor of neither Estonia, Lithuania nor Poland, and that it was a neighbor of the European Union.

Certainly, the EU still has its old historical neighborhoods with own reminiscences and clashes of interests. But this is well understandable and manageable. Russia wants to divide Europe, but its brutality unifies the European countries. In this interface the key challenges in terms of solidarity and patience are still ahead. So far the neighbor is only testing its muscles against Lithuania (the fourth oil blockade!), Ukraine, Georgia, Poland, Belarus and Estonia...

It also tries to clap on as many as possible crooks of Gazprom. Germany, Hungary, now Latvia... Whereas the EU delays in forming a common energy strategy. NATO will not do that for us.

Another case of neighborhood is the neighbor of a neighbor.  We wish a better cooperation with Central Asia, North Africa, we want peace in the Middle East. However, both Russia and Iran are of the opposite opinion. It is not yet clear what would be the role of Iran when Russia embraces the Central Europe with its pipeline claws from north and south. Currently this future role is being inspected by the half-alive Belarus. It is time to realize the importance of strategic neighborhood of Turkey and Iraq to Europe and prevent from the fight between the two countries on the issue of the Kurds, for instance.

Central Asia is still in the crossroads of choices. The interests of Russia, China and Far West crisscross there. The countries of Central Asia subsidize Russia by huge amounts of money via the energy and transit tariffs.

The neighbors of our neighbors, perceived by us within the context of Europe, are Georgia and Azerbaijan. Maybe Armenia, if it would like to. The same could be with Kazakhstan if it manages to choose some other country but Russia for transit of energy resources.

However, the key role in terms of efforts of Europe in retaining freedom will be played by China. Its demographic expansion to the half-empty eastern Siberia would make Russia get sober, stop fighting with democracies, or, on the contrary, push it to absolute madness.

According to scientists, for twenty years there will be no shortage of the Russian oil resources. Such a period is also envisaged by the geopolitical policy-makers of the Kremlin for overtaking Europe. Their new futurological book „The Third Empire“ (quazi novel) is really noteworthy, as well as „Mein Kampf“ of the Russian political elite. In these books even less time if foreseen for Europe‘s takeover and prostration of America. According to their plans, by 2015 the Baltic States will have completely vanished from the stage. The Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians would be physically destroyed. The book was written by vice chairman of Duma, and V.Putin‘s favorites M.Leontyev and A.Dugin advertise it with enthusiasm.

The third Reich is advertised absolutely openly, whereas poor Europe is still grumbling over „common space of freedom and justice“. With whom? After all, Russia does not need neither freedom, nor justice, it needs only a simplified visa regime for expansion. Meanwhile such a unilateral approach discredits and does harm to visas of our neighbors Byelorussians.

The Baltic States might also be punished through the ecologic catastrophe – the Russian pipeline via the sea and via the poisonous graveyards of rusted bombs.  Germany blesses this threat without taking any responsibility. The „pribalts“ will vanish – what‘s wrong in that? There is no need even to involve the Red Army. The „pribalts“ might be destroyed with the help of the pipeline to be constructed by Russia (and blessed by Germany) through the Baltic Sea via the dumps of the rusted chemical weapon. By the way, they were rigged up in 1946 by the same Red Army.

Therefore Europe as a totality (EU) should plan its schedules and consolidated self-defense in the energy siege (sweetened by corruption) at least twenty years ahead, during which we have to survive; consolidate with the United States in the search for a new engine and alternative energy sources; watch the growing fascist Russia with open eyes and acknowledge that partnership in this country is perceived differently than in the West.

I‘m convinced that a correction of the myth of „welfare state“ would help the Europeans - not to seek welfare in the context of moral dry-rot and at the expense of freedom.  The moral Europe would be more respected by both, the neighbors and neighbors of the neighbors.

Perhaps I diverted from the subject – the Central Asia. I have given priority to the deep Asia, the Asia of ancient tyrants, which has been currently getting the shape of the Russian regime and non-valuable culture.

We could also consider secondary geopolitical issues and would have educative benefit. However, it might also be harmful if this would mean a lost compass or time lost when sticking the head to the sand of the Kara Kum.  If there is no democracy and Europe in Russia and its Third Reich, there will be no democracy in Central Asia either. Therefore in the first place we have to help the Russians – not to get drowned in the deep Asia (Presentation in the discussion „Policy of the European Neighborhood and Strategy of Central Asia“ for 50th anniversary of the Rome Treaty, 21 May, 2007).

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