Human Resources

Agency WPS
January 28, 2005, Friday


SOURCE: Rossiiskie Vesti, NN 1 – 2, January 20 – 26, 2005, p. 8

by Sergei Pikhtov

President of Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili, dashed to Kiev for a
meeting with his new counterpart as soon as Viktor Yuschenko’s
victory in the presidential race was unofficially proclaimed. The two
presidents enjoyed some skiing and signed the so called Carpathian
Declaration, a document calling the latest developments in Ukraine
“the third wave of liberation in Europe.”

The trip to Ukraine was preceded by a visit to Estonia where
Saakashvili discussed new forms of co-operation with this Baltic
state. The Georgian leader proposed Political Initiative 3 3 several
days later, an idea of co-operation between Lithuania, Latvia, and
Estonia on the one hand and Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan on the
other. The Baltic states are supposed to help the republics of the
Caucasus in rapprochement with Europe within the framework of the so
called “politics of neighborhood”. What the idea is essentially about
is establishment of a new regional organization where presence of the
seventh member, the United States, can be seen with an unaided eye.
Anti-Russian bias of the future organization is undeniable too.

Washington’s political games in the region can only be applauded.
Using EU money and giving its puppets of ally’s specific tasks to
perform, the White House expects to reach its objectives with minimum
effort and resources expended. Where promotion of geopolitical
interests is concerned, American diplomats could teach their Russian
opposite numbers a thing or two.

What does Washington need it for? Primarily, it is a continuation of
its policy of finding political vassals on the borders of Russia and
simultaneous promotion of America’s “vital interests”. Proclaiming
co-operation with post-Soviet countries as a priority of its foreign
policy, the Kremlin made it plain that the Commonwealth was the last
realm it still had the stamina for.

Reaction of the US Department of State was prompt. Madame Rice’s
structure saw its chance to effectively and cheaply bind Moscow’s
hands and dampen activeness of Russian diplomacy in other spheres.
Cold War methods gave way to political technologists who already
proved their effectiveness in the struggle for power in the
pot-Soviet zone. Among other things, the matter concerns formation of
twin parties by the Americans, New Time in Latvia and Republic in
Estonia. They ousted the right-nationalist movements that had played
their role already. Financed and assisted by the Americans, actively
making use of the administrative resources, these parties easily won
the majority of seats in national parliaments. Approximately the same
scenario was used in the elections of president of Latvia and
Lithuania who had returned to their native countries after years of
life in the United States. Georgia’s turn came then where the Velvet
Revolution scenario was tried on orders from the same

Russia is losing this contest of political technologies. It lacks the
necessary resources and a coordinated policy. Russian businesses do
not understand the necessity to take interests of the state into
account. As far as they are concerned, profits right here and now are
more important than interests of the state or long-term stability of
their own operations.

Moreover, what role are the Baltic states supposed to play here? They
are expected to show something in return for their membership in the
European Union and NATO. They make a fine Trojan horse in the EU,
criticizing the countries that try to emphasize their independence
from Washington in dealing with purely European problems. At the same
time, the Baltic states as Russia’s antagonists impede the EU-Russia
rapprochement which also plays into Washington’s hands.

Establishment of the anti-Russian alliance of the Baltic states and
republics of the Caucasus answers the same interests. No other
economic or political reason can explain this conspicuous and even
obsessive intention to develop bilateral contacts between countries
that are so different in commerce as such only the sale of Georgian
wine and Armenian cognac may be profitable, only in theory and only
marginally. According to the Estonia Foreign Ministry, Georgia is
108th on the list of Tallinn’s trade partners. Export from Georgia to
Estonia amounted to less than 100,000 euros in 2003. That is a laugh
even by the standards of a single company.

In fact, “friendship” between Estonia and Georgia does not begin
right away. Estonia with its Western partners’ money already trained
Georgian officials and military in answering NATO and EU requirements
to enable official Tbilisi to talk to Brussels so that it would be
understood. The whole training took the form of seminars and
consultations because the Estonians themselves cannot offer anything
more productive.

These contacts were bilateral until now. An attempt is being made now
to elevate them to a regional level and set up something like GUUAM.
It stands to reason that GUUAM must have some weak link that worries
the Americans. The matter clearly concerns Armenia and its President
Robert Kocharjan. Armenia’s reaction to the 3 3 initiative was
branded as “hesitant” in the very first comments. “The policy was
proclaimed but what exactly is meant has not been formulated yet.
Contents of the policy are being formulated at this point,” Kocharjan

Kocharjan said as well that his country is prepared for closer
co-operation with the Baltic states within the framework of the
policy of “new neighbors”. He said that he would continue
consultations with Saakashvili of Georgia but he himself “is not sure
that the Baltic states themselves have a consensus on the matter

Kocharjan’s stand on the matter is understandable. A veteran
politician, he immediately saw the initiative for what it really was
an attempt to drag him into a confrontation with Russia. He does not
want to turn it down out of hand, however, because Moscow is unlikely
to offer his country more than the Americans can. It does not
therefore take a genius to guess that President of Estonia Ruutel
discussed precisely this initiative with the Armenian leadership on
his visit to Yerevan last fall, offering the experience of his own
country in becoming a NATO member. Following the talks, Prime
Minister of Armenia A. Margarjan announced that Armenia was prepared
to develop bilateral co-operation with Estonia in the sphere of
security and defense and did not object to discussion of an
appropriate accord between defense ministries. Speaking of
development of relations, Margarjan also mentioned the importance of
the 3 3 co-operation initiative. Time will show if he really meant
something by that.

Analysis of the matter will be incomplete without consideration of
the problem of the Baltic consensus. After all, it certainly seems
that they perceive the new form of co-operation differently. In the
Caucasus, the rapprochement initiative belongs to Georgia. In the
Baltic states, the idea is promoted by Estonia. These are the two
countries whose relations with Moscow leave particularly much to be

Neither Lithuania nor Latvia displayed any particularly vivid foreign
political interest in the Caucasus until now. Bearing in mind certain
discord in the relations between the Baltic states which is bound to
worsen now that their objective (membership in the EU and NATO has
been reached); it makes sense to expect this consensus to be formal.
The situation being what it is Russia should exploit the weaknesses
of the construction instead of relying solely on its relations with
Armenia to thwart the initiative as such.

As for the weaknesses in question, it will not hurt to mention the
growing anti-Americanism in Estonia the local authorities are finding
it more and more difficult to counter and keep in check. Political
scientist Paul Goble who settled in Estonia was shocked last autumn
to be told of results of an opinion poll indicating that the locals
dislike the Russians and the Americans equally. There is nothing odd
about this attitude with regard to the Russians, but when it applies
to representatives of the Empire of Virtue, it is certainly worth
some serious contemplation.

Goble believes that it is happening because the Estonians are sick of
showing their gratitude, because they have finally seen that this
doggy devotion annuls their own accomplishments. It means that the
Kremlin may tentatively count on appearance of an other weak link in
the chain, the people of Estonia that may find these political games
with construction of the Baltic-Caucasus bridge under supervision of
the American foreman oddly familiar, remembered from its own not very
distant past.