Newsweek asks President Ilves for tips for Obama

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves was one of the world politicians and economic gurus Newsweek magazine asked for advice for the next president of the United States, Barack Obama.
Newsweek published a special edition at the turn of the year entitled “Issues 2009: How to Fix the World — A Guide for the Next President”. Among the persons whose views were represented were World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Nobel Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, World Trade Organisation Secretary-General Pascal Lamy, and President of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Ilves outlined his views on how to heal the transatlantic rift caused by the Iraq war while faced with an increasingly assertive Russia.
The president called on the Obama administration to continue defending liberal democratic values while working with a “resurgent, authoritarian and resentful Russia”. He acknowledged that balancing these objectives will not be easy, and it will be tempting to give in to realpolitik, simply conceding to Russia a sphere of influence along its borders.
He observed that some western politicians do not see defending democratic principles as a high priority when countries are worried about securing foreign markets or ensuring their energy supplies.
But the United States must not abandon its principles and should restore its close ties to Europe, the president stressed. Otherwise, 2008 could go down in history as the year when the fundamental assumptions of the post-Cold-War world, including the idea that aggression is unacceptable and that democratically elected governments should not be forsaken for pragmatic concerns, ceased to apply, he warned.
Ilves also warns Obama not to accept a world where authoritarian capitalism and massive oil wealth could become a plausible alternative to liberal democracy.
Referring to the Georgia conflict, Ilves said Russia showed the world it is willing to use force to change borders and demand regime change in a democratically elected government on its border.
Unfortunately not all decision-makers in Europe understand the gravity of this, he said, recalling a senior European Commission official who, when speaking before the European Parliament last fall, said that the European Union needs to address Russia “as it is”, not as “we would wish it to be”.
The United States and Europe need to restore their good relationship because only together can they remain critical bulwarks of democracy and the rule of law in a threatening world, Ilves said.

Source: Estonian Review

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