Editor-in-chief of National Defense magazine Igor Korotchenko comments on the response of Baltic politicians to the developments in Syria to RuBaltic.
President of Latvia Raimonds Vejonis has said lately the West may forget about Ukraine because of Syria. “Such statements show that the Latvian president is an outsider of the European policy, though Latvia chaired the EU not so long ago. It is parochial mentality. The president must follow his own statements with more responsibility. Latvia should be grateful to Russia for the fact that we are fighting the international terrorism in Syria,” Korotchenko said.
Prime Minister of Lithuania Algirdas Butkevičius, in turn, cast doubt on the fact that Russia is fighting “the Islamic State” in Syria. In Baltics, some politicians say Russia is striking the targets of Jabhat al- Nusra, Islamic Front and anti-Assad opposition, not IS. “Russia is fulfilling the task to destroy the infrastructures of the global terrorism in the territory of Syria. The statements questioning this fact are lie or criminal incompetence. I would like to make an experiment. I would send the Lithuanian prime minister to the negotiations with those groups so that he could verify if Jabhat al-Nusra consists of terrorists of freedom-fighters. Jabhad al-Nusra would demonstrate a cut-off head on a dish, and the Lithuanian public will finally made such that they are real terrorists. In fact, such statements by officials are nothing but sponsorship of terrorism. So, they’d better keep silent and stop phrase-mongering,” Korotchenko said.
“Not only Baltic politicians, but also their security services are responsible for such ignorance. Latvia and Lithuania should analyze the current international situation. It is clear that the distance between Baltic States and Syria is considerable. Nevertheless, for instance, the Latvian taxpayers and budget fund a range of security services: Bureau for Protection of the Constitution, Security Police, and Military Intelligence. All they operate in the single intelligence and counter-intelligence pool of the NATO countries. One can get an impression that the Baltic security services suffer from tunnel-thinking. If you clam a leading role in the European policy, at least create a system of intelligence able to analyze what is happening in the Middle East for the security of Latvia and Lithuania,” the expert said.
“I’d like to recall that I was in Riga in February 2013 at the invitation of Format A3 media club. I delivered a speech for the Latvian journalists. I said the Latvian security services underestimate the threat of the international terrorism when it comes to possibility of terror assaults in the territory of Latvia. My message for you: work to prevent possible penetration of extremists into your country. Meantime, we hear incompetent statements saying that Russia allegedly tries to overshadow Ukraine by the operations in Syria and allegedly targets progressive rebels there. What if those progressive rebels appear in Latvia as refugees from Syria? God Forbid! It will be horrific. Therefore, I rate the Baltic security services as unsatisfactory,” Igor Korotchenko said for conclusion.