Staunton, January 18 – The Baltic countries say they would like to revive their economic cooperation with Russia while their policies toward Moscow remain unchanged, but Aleksandr Nosovich says that Moscow has no interest in ending its economic blockade unless Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania change themselves in seven fundamental ways.
Nosovich, notorious in the Baltic countries for his criticism of these states and celebrated by some of the most hardline Russian officials and activists in Moscow for the same reason, provides a list that no Baltic country could accept in toto without putting itself at risk of national suicide (rubaltic.ru/article/politika-i-obshchestvo/18012018-trebovaniy-rossii-k-pribaltike/).
It is unlikely that the Kremlin is going to push this entire list, but many of Nosovich’s suggestions are probably very much part of the discussion in the upper reaches of the Russian government. And they are thus worthy of note in order to better understand what Moscow is really about in this region.
First of all, Nosovich says, all three Baltic countries must restore and protect the rights of their Russian-speaking populations if they hope to see a return of Russian trade and transit. The Russian language “must receive official status,” Russian schools must remain untouched, and “the right of children from Russian families to study their native language guaranteed.
Second, the Lithuanian “blockade” of Kaliningrad must be lifted. Residents of the Russian enclave must be allowed to travel across Lithuania without visas to reach the rest of Russia, and Vilnius must stop all moves to have trade go through its ports rather than through the ones in Kaliningrad.
Third, the three countries must end what Nosovich calls “anti-Russian hysteria.” They must not work to “block a visa free regime between Russia and the EU, to maintain ‘black lists’ of Russian citizens, to demand the continuation and broadening of sanctions, to prohibit Russian media … and to oppose the Northern Flow gas pipeline.”
Fourth, the three must revisit and revise their memberships in the Eastern Partnership. They must, Nosovich says, end their acceptance of the EU’s understanding of this policy, “according to which the post-Soviet republics are an object of geopolitical competition between the West and Russia and their rapprochement with the EU is needed to weaken Moscow.”
Like the other countries taking part in the Eastern Partnership, he continues, the Baltic states “must not ignore Russia and the interests of pro-Russian groups of the population in these countries must be considered.” They must end their “interference in the internal affairs of other countries in the name of ‘spreading democracy.’”
According to the Russian commentator, “Russia must be recognized as an inalienable part of a United Europe” and the EU must officially acknowledge that. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania can’t count on cooperation from Moscow so that they can benefit from the Chinese project of the New Silk Road.”
Fifth, the Baltic countries must block their historians from politicizing history and using it “as an instrument of struggle with Russia. If the Baltic countries want to do business with Russia, then they must stop calculating ‘losses from the Soviet occupation’ and presenting Moscow with demands for hundreds of billions of euros in compensation.
Moreover, they must end all efforts to equate communism and Nazism and stop efforts to convene “’a second Nuremburg’” in which Russia would be the defendant “as the legal successor to the USSR.” And the war against Soviet monuments must end and Baltic citizens should cease being told that the Soviet period was “an occupation.”
Sixth, there must be an exit from public life of “professional Russophobes.” Moscow will never develop good relations with politicians “who have made their careers on the basis of hatred to Russia and Russians. If the Baltics want economic cooperation, then in their coalitions and governments there must not be national radicals” of any kind.
And seventh, the three Baltic countries must move to end their membership in NATO and declare their “military-political neutrality.” According to Nosovich, Russia doesn’t need anything more from them than that, something the Baltic leaders should carefully reflect upon in making decisions about the future.