Thursday, March 03, 2011

Putin and Barroso

Putin and Barroso are not exactly friends. This FT article ("Putin set to resume battle with Barroso") sums it nicely up with many quotes from Wikileaks:
At a press conference to wrap up the 2009 summit in Moscow, José Manuel Barroso criticised Russia’s human rights record, only to receive a stinging rebuke from Vladimir Putin, who charged Europe with its own abuses, including mistreating migrant workers.

Brussels blog: The WikiLeaks cable - Feb-24EU out to break energy dependence on Russia - Feb-02Putin’s ally delivers connects with the west - Jan-16Opinion: Europe has its mojo back - Feb-09In depth: WikiLeaks - Dec-09Lunch with the FT: José Manuel Barroso - Nov-19According to confidential US diplomatic cables obtained by the website WikiLeaks and seen by the Financial Times, the public spat was the tip of a very large iceberg. Two weeks after the summit, a senior European Union official told the US embassy in Moscow that it was evidence of “the widely known personality disconnect between Putin and Barroso”.

The Russian prime minister “views the EU commissioner as the ‘Trojan horse’ of the new EU states”, the cable states, citing the EU official. “The gas war with Ukraine only served to inflame the personal grievance Putin held against the commissioner.”

A few days ago the two had a new meeting. This time Barroso named some victims of Russian repression, like Litvinenko and Politkovskaya.

In my opinion this is a typical Cold War reflex. Every system has its victims. The US has its huge number of prisoners death sentences for innocents and Guantanamo. Western Europe has its Gypsies and its problems integrating Muslim immigrants. It doesn't harm to name those problems but if you want change you have to change a wider system. Barroso could have asked Putin what he sees as his goal. Does he see Western style freedom as the long term goal? If so: how does he want to reach it? If not, why not and what is his alternative. He could also have asked how Putin sees his own future. Does he want to retire at a certain age or will he run the risk to end up like Mubarak?

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