Ironically, improved ties with Moscow are Tbilisi’s only chance of entering NATO. Despite the alliance’s formal welcome mat, there is little enthusiasm for courting conflict with Russia.
Riga has garnered widespread support within Europe, which is desperate to shore up the besieged currency. However, Riga’s entry looks like rats running onto a sinking ship to many Latvians.
Europe is tired of the Gazprom monopoly and isn’t going to take it any more. At least, that appears to be the message from Lithuania, which will take over the European Union’s rotating presidency in July.
Vilnius inevitably will be drawn further into the debate over how best to extricate troubled European states from their economic difficulties. Lithuania is particularly interested in stabilizing the eurozone since Vilnius hopes to enter the monetary union in 2015.
Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili is being challenged to demonstrate that his government can be friends with both Europe and Russia. The charge that the new government is moving the country eastward is a frequent claim with few specifics behind it.
Through history and culture, Armenia views itself as part of the West. Armenia cannot escape its geographical position: it should seek a solid relationship with Moscow and a warmer peace with Azerbaijan.
In this world, Azerbaijan would benefit from improved relations with the West. That is most likely to come in response to domestic liberalization.
Rather than reacting out of fear, attempting to reduce natural economic links, the wealthier EU states should encourage poorer nations to the east to more fully participate in the economic mainstream.
Not everyone is certain that this is a wise decision. Nevertheless, Latvia has followed policies which make its economic success likely irrespective of the fate of the Euro.
Those living today in the former communist states obviously were not generally responsible for the Holocaust; but the rise of extremist parties makes it especially important to preserve the memory of what happens when the bonds of civilization are broken.