European Values and Relations with Russia

Sandra Kalniete, a former Ambassador from Latvia to the UN, pens a strong op/ed on EU relations with Russia.

Russia acts with open hostility toward efforts by Central and Eastern European countries to find historical truth. Putin has emphasized on several occasions that Russia will not take responsibility for crimes committed by the Soviet Union in Central or Eastern Europe. At the same time, he has expressed his admiration for Stalin and his regret of “the largest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century”: the fall of the Soviet Union. More than one-fifth of the Russian population considers the NGO Memorial’s documented proof regarding the scale of Stalinist terror as untrue. It is with great justification that the Sakharov Award, given every year by the European Parliament, went to Memorial for fighting to condemn Stalin’s crimes and expose human rights violations in modern day Russia.

When assessing democracy’s current retreat in Russia – there is no other way to refer to the state‘s control of the press, the narrowing of representative government, the lack of effort to critically re-evaluate Stalinism and Bolshevism, the war in Chechnya and other human rights abuses – we must realize that, given long-term EU interests, it is not possible to sacrifice values and succumb to the temptation of pragmatism. Whenever Europe has sacrificed basic values in the name of realpolitik, dramatic and tragic consequences have followed.