EURASIA LIFT

Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

East Europeans nervous as US courts Russia

Posted by Info on 16/07/2009

A group of prominent former Eastern European leaders wrote to President Barack Obama today that their region is gripped by anxiety that his efforts to reach out to Russia could lead him to forget their interests.

The 22 former leaders warned U.S. credibility would be damaged if Washington abandons plans for a missile shield, saying they still feel bullied by their giant neighbor and former master. They claimed Russia continues to challenge their sovereignty 20 years after the Cold War’s end.

The Bush administration reached agreements last year to station interceptor missiles at a base in Poland and a linked radar base in the Czech Republic. Russia vehemently opposes the plan and Obama is skeptical of it and is undertaking a thorough review.

“Abandoning the program entirely or involving Russia too deeply in it without consulting Poland or the Czech Republic can undermine the credibility of the United States across the whole region,” according to the letter signed by ex-leaders from countries once in the Soviet-controlled communist bloc but now NATO and EU members.

The signatories include former presidents Lech Walesa and Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland, Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic, Emil Constantinescu of Romania and Vaira Vike-Freiberga of Latvia. They describe themselves as U.S. allies who remain deeply indebted to America for helping bring down the Iron Curtain.

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