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EU Expansion and Sheremetyevo Grievances
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Friday, May. 7, 2004.

EU Expansion and Sheremetyevo Grievances


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In response to "A Euroskeptic's Monologue," a column by Boris Kagarlitsky and "Russia, Its Neighbors and EU Expansion," a comment by Nikolas Gvosdev, both on May 6.

Both Boris Kagarlitsky and Nikolas Gvosdev make valid points on the problems and issues arising from EU expansion. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the EU is now happy to admit new members as long as they accept that any EU subsidies and investments will be a long time in coming. It is even conceivable that Brussels would also invite Russia, Ukraine and Belarus if these nations agree to trade their sovereignty for an "I am an EU member" badge. Some of the new members in Eastern Europe are already concerned about the likely negative impact on their economies and resent the tendency by richer members to adopt a patronizing "we know it best" attitude toward them.

Neither is the EU really interested in solving any of the political problems among its members. No EU commissioner has ever bothered to address the Basque, Corsican or Northern Irish problems. Other policies are blatantly contradictory; on Cyprus, the EU supports the presence of thousands of Turkish troops on the island and defends the rights of the Turkish minority to complete economic and cultural autonomy. However, the EU does not ask for similar rights to be granted to the much larger Russian minority living in Latvia.

It therefore makes political and economic sense for Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan to develop their own economic zone because EU (and NATO) expansion is probably more to do with extending political domination than feelings of charity toward poorer countries to the East, as the West European media would like its public to believe.

Greg Middleton
Surrey, England

Airport Abomination

In response to "$50M Vnukovo Terminal Ready to Fly," an article by Lyuba Pronina on April 15.

Your report on Moscow airports confirms that Sheremetyevo continues to lose business to its two rivals. So it should. The sooner it is reformed drastically or closed altogether, the better.

I have been privileged to work in Moscow four to five times per year for several years. The pleasure of visiting the city is dampened by the inevitable delays in clearing immigration.

My flight from Britain takes just over three hours. Yet it can take anything between 30 minutes and nearly four hours to get through immigration and baggage reclaim. A few weeks ago, my plane hit the ground at 4:20 p.m. and I was still air-side at 6:15 p.m.

Among those angrily waiting was a group of Spanish people. Some confirmed that no matter how delightful the experience of Moscow sightseeing, little would tempt them back.

Someone has to realize that this medieval throwback is costing Russia millions of rubles by making a permanently negative impression of Russia on foreign visitors. Many will simply not return. Russia has proved itself very able in the field of rocket science. It is hardly rocket science to fix this continuing abomination.

Robert J. Souster
Northampton, England

Poverty and Children

In response to "The Challenge: Halving Global Poverty Again," a comment by Francois Bourguignon on April 28.

Adults need more food than children. The global proportion of children is falling. So are economists not now underestimating food needs in the species?

And how can economists have a global poverty count when they don't know the proportion of children?

Matt Berkley
Oxford, England

Instinct to Win

In response to "Iraq May Save Bush's Skin," a column by Boris Kagarlitsky on April 29.

I enjoy reading The Moscow Times for a broad understanding of contemporary Russian politics and culture, but when I read articles about my own politics I am frequently struck by the failure to adequately comprehend U.S. politics.

Those who are antiwar in this country are a very small portion of the electorate. That's why John Kerry and the Democratic Party will not heed their demands. Howard Dean fell flat because for all his ultra-left-wing support and money, he couldn't win primary votes. Not even he dared to offer an electoral promise of withdrawing from Iraq; only Dennis Kucinich, with the support of a whopping 5 percent or less of Democrats has done that.

No policy of appeasement in the United States will ever win the vote. The issue has nothing to do with accepting that war causes casualties and therefore it should be stopped by any means; the assumption is that only losing a war causes such casualties and the United States must win. How can Americans think that such a small number of casualties is part of a losing strategy and not just the collateral damage of war? The answer lies in Americans' ignorance of military history, especially foreign military history.

Americans never voted to lose Vietnam or for a candidate who would sacrifice South Vietnam to the Communists, a fact that is often forgotten abroad. Once in a war, the American instinct is to win it. The only thing worse than war is losing one, and the broad majority of Americans believe this.

Kerry can't win by saying Bush is in Iraq period, he can win by saying Bush hasn't taken the right steps in Iraq and then have the Jihadists in Iraq prove him right. It's a long shot for the Democrats, but then a wartime U.S. president has never lost an election, so he knew it would be an uphill battle from the outset.

Justin Bristow
Johns Hopkins University

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