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In the center of Europe, a "pro-Russian belt"

In the center of Europe, a "pro-Russian belt"

Tags: Estonia, Slovakia, EU, Politics, Russia, Europe, Sanctions, International relations, Analytics

Estonian President Kirsti Kaliulaid and Speaker of the Slovakian Parliament Andrei Danko were called synchronously to not be at enmity with Moscow. True, these small countries do not solve anything in Brussels' foreign policy, but it is now clear that when the West's reconciliation with Russia finally begins, it will start from the eastern corners of the European Union.

Small EU countries do not have enough power and influence to radically influence the policy of this quasi-state entity. No matter how they acted against the same anti-Russian sanctions, or, conversely, however they demanded to stop all communication with Moscow, their opinion remains only an opinion.

But, on the other hand, as secondary politicians in many countries of the world express ideas that can not or do not want to voice power, and small states can come up with "test" proposals, which will then be considered as the official policy of Brussels.

Estonia and Slovakia almost simultaneously made landmark political statements about Russia. Estonian President Kirsti Kaliulayd said in an interview with the BBC that the sooner the relations between Russia and the Western countries become "normal", the better, but "unfortunately, Russia must make the first steps".

According to Kalyulaid, after the events of 2008 in Georgia and South Ossetia, "the reaction of the West was not tough enough," but after the 2014 event, Western countries "learned the lesson": "Sanctions were introduced, there was an understanding that Minsk agreements should be implemented and Crimea should return to Ukraine. All this remains in force, "she stressed.

At the same time, according to the Estonian President, she would be pleased with the good relations with Russia, but our country is too "unpredictable" for her. On the direct question whether she considers Russia a "hostile state", Kalyulaid unequivocally replied "no."

In turn, the Speaker of the Slovakian Parliament, Andrei Danko, accused other countries of being in favor of restraining Russia, but in fact they do not stop interaction with Moscow.

"I hear at every step that, contrary to sanctions, here (in Russia) trade flourishes with the EU states, there are also representatives of US firms,

- he said during the 137-th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in St. Petersburg. According to Danko, in relations with Russia "we missed many things, because we wanted to be different. But we need a Slavic reciprocity, as well as cooperation in the economic field. "

Later, during a meeting with St. Petersburg Governor Georgi Poltavchenko, the head of the Slovak legislative branch also called for the development of cultural ties between our countries - including teaching Russian in Slovak schools. Recall also that in the neighboring Austria of Austria, on Sunday's elections, the conservative Austrian People's Party (ANP) won, headed by the country's Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurtz, who stands for the abolition of anti-Russian sanctions.

In another country neighboring Slovakia, the Czech Republic, parliamentary elections will be held at the end of this week, and, according to opinion polls, the victory is very likely to get the party of Andrei Babish, a billionaire, suspected of wanting "to deploy the Czech Republic (and at the same time Central Europe and part EU) towards Moscow, forcing it to "turn away from Brussels and Washington."

As the Foreign Policy publication writes, if Babish wins the election, and in 2018, the current president Milos Zeman (who is also regularly accused of excessive sympathy for Putin personally) will be re-elected, then Prague's rapprochement with Moscow becomes very probable.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, like Zeman, is regularly accused of being "pro-Russian," and he is also against anti-Russian sanctions.

The only Eastern European country that stands on the hard anti-Russian positions is Poland, but Warsaw, in turn, has serious disagreements with Brussels.

In addition, Russophobic rhetoric and the campaign to demolish Soviet monuments do not prevent Poland from actively trading with our country, including regularly violating Russian food antisanutions with the mediation of Belarus. Without the Russian market, both Polish pig-breeders and Polish gardeners are sad.

Thus, the formation of the "pro-Russian belt" in Central Europe can already be spoken of as a fait accompli. And the direct refusal of the President of Estonia to consider Russia an enemy is also worth a lot - this is tantamount to a declaration of eternal friendship from almost any other European country, except perhaps the same Poland.

Of course, all the statements about the need for the resumption of the dialogue and the lifting of sanctions are due not to a large and disinterested love for our country and not to "Slavic reciprocity."

Sanctions harm all European countries, but Central and Eastern Europe, due to geographical proximity and Soviet-era ties, suffers more. Only Ukrainian politicians are able to harm their own economy and citizens regularly, in the hope that the war or the new Maydan will "write everything off." In other European countries, the situation is different, so even Warsaw in words welcomes the new anti-Russian sanctions imposed by the United States, but she herself is not in a hurry to make similar decisions.

Angela Merkel after the elections in Germany, in which support for her party has significantly decreased, and politicians, advocating reconciliation with Russia, on the contrary, has grown until she made new statements on Russia. And the German ambassador in Moscow, Rüdiger von Fritsch, said that "in fact nothing will change," stating that there is a broad political consensus in Germany: there is no alternative to good relations with Moscow.

If the EU intends to continue to be an unifying and not a disengaging structure, then it is time to unequivocally speak out to its leading countries - Germany or France. And, judging by the fact that small countries in Europe are increasingly proposing to lift sanctions and resume full-fledged cooperation with Russia, Berlin and Paris are waiting for very concrete statements, and then actions in this direction.

Anton Krylov
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