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AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION

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3/27/14

Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich,

Last week, a journalist asked my position on NATO. Over the weekend, I pondered the issue. Here is my response. I think it may be of interest to you too.

NATO is not an easy topic, especially in the middle of the Ukrainian crisis. I know it raises fear and suspicion in Russia.

I, too, have wondered why a military alliance aimed against the Soviet Union is still with us long after the Soviet Union collapsed.

***

There are many partial explanations, of course. Western Europe still remembers the US with gratitude for liberation from Nazi occupation.

For Germany, NATO is a respectable way for military co-operation and a tool to keep the ghosts of the past at bay.

The eastern EU states are still afraid of Russia and resentful of Soviet rule.

In Finland, we have respected Russian feelings in the matter and not got too excited about NATO membership.

***

Firstly, I want to emphasize that I regard NATO as a tool not suited for dealing with the Ukrainian crisis. Us Europeans should be able to communicate directly with our neighbour, Russia. We should not need NATO as our megaphone.

A few American fighter planes or a warship in the Black Sea - these do not add to anybody's security. They just waken old fears in Russia.

I believe NATO to be an outdated tool for taking care of European issues. Hence, I do not support Finnish membership in the alliance.

However, should the Finnish government now or in any comparable situation judge that Finland's security cannot be guaranteed without membership, I would loyally support them. I will now tell you why:

***

I believe the Russian people wants peace. I have tried my best to make Western decision-makers hear the message that Russia has repeated again and again: that the 21 February agreement should be taken into account in the search for peace.

I am not sure it is worth continuing with my effort. The events in Crimea make even the friends of Russia wonder about future.

Crimea has strong links to Russia. But so does Ukraine. Seizing a province from a neighbouring country when a crisis occurs there awakes all the old fears and memories that Russia's neighbours have of Stalin's brutal imperialism.

***

As a sincere friend of Russia, I wish to give you this word of warning. What the Russian government is now doing threatens all the trust and friendship that the people of other countries have ever felt towards Russia.

The peoples of Europe and Russia are watching the events in Ukraine with horror. At this fateful moment, I appeal to your wisdom as a statesman.

Do listen to your friends, not to spineless yes-men around you! Ideally, Ukraine should be a bridge of peace uniting us, not a chasm which separates us.

I regret that all too often, we politicians lack the skill and will to understand each other's spiritual landscape and the reasons and feelings behind it.

We tend to speak not to, but past each other. As we lack sufficient self-awareness, we also lack the courage to overcome our fear of each other.

From the Arctic to the Mediterranean, from the Atlantic to the Urals and beyond people pray for peace between our Russian and Ukrainian sisters and brothers.

Their message to their leaders is as follows: We desire peace and reconciliation - and we want to say farewell to arms and violence.

It is not too late!

5/9/14Time is ripe for diplomacy -- EPToday
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4/8/14Beside Russia
3/27/14AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION

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