Skip to comments.A 'counterbalance' - Canada's democracy can counter Russian negativity: MacKay
Posted on 07/19/2007 6:19:26 AM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
OTTAWA -- Canada sees itself as a "counterbalance" to Russia's negative influence on emerging democracies in eastern Europe, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said Wednesday as he wrapped up a two-day visit to Ukraine.
"There are outside pressures [on Ukraine], from Russia most notably," said MacKay in an interview from Kyiv. "We want to make sure they feel the support that is there for them in the international community. Canada has a distinct and legitimate role to play in promoting what we feel is a very successful and functioning democracy in our own country."
MacKay expressed concern over the Kremlin's announcement last week that it intends to pull out of the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty. It is the latest in a series of irritants that continue to chill relations between Moscow and the West, raising fears of a renewed Cold War.
"There have been some troubling -- in fact very disturbing -- comments made by the Russian leadership and, to that extent, I think Canada can play the role of positive influence and counterbalance," MacKay said.
NATO is concerned about Russia's decision to pull out of the treaty and wants to convene a conference to discuss Moscow's concerns. The 1990 treaty was designed to solidify peace between Russia and its traditional Cold War enemies by limiting the number of tanks, artillery and combat aircraft that Russia and Europe can deploy in their border areas.
MacKay also alluded to other problems that have emerged in Russia's toughening foreign policy towards the West in recent years, including its decisions to cut natural gas supplies to Ukraine and neighbouring Belarus, and meddling in the affairs of Georgia, which the Kremlin still considers to be within its sphere of influence.
Russia views the U.S. decision to deploy a ballistic missile defence system in eastern Europe as provocative, a charge that Washington has dismissed as unfounded. Washington, meanwhile, has accused President Vladimir Putin of using energy as a weapon to stifle democratic development in countries that were once part of the Soviet Union.
MacKay lauded Ukraine for the steps it has taken towards democracy since its December 2004 "Orange Revolution" as he announced a $16 million package to support further democratic reform.
Huh, how is Canada going to do that?
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