Europeans warn of new Berlin Wall in Georgia
The letter by signatories, including former Czech president Vaclav Havel, European deputy Daniel Cohn-Bendit and French writers Andre Glucksmann and Bernard-Henri Levy, said Europe's integrity was at stake in Georgia.Berlin -- Prominent Europeans warned Tuesday against a new Berlin Wall going up in Georgia with the "de facto annexation" of two provinces by Russia, in a guest column printed in four newspapers.
The letter by signatories, including former Czech president Vaclav Havel, European deputy Daniel Cohn-Bendit and French writers Andre Glucksmann and Bernard-Henri Levy, said Europe's integrity was at stake in Georgia.
"Twenty years after the emancipation of half of the continent, a new wall is being built in Europe -- this time across the sovereign territory of Georgia," the column said.
"We urge the EU's 27 democratic leaders to define a proactive strategy to help Georgia peacefully regain its territorial integrity and obtain the withdrawal of Russian forces illegally stationed on Georgian soil."
Russia and Georgia waged a five-day war in August 2008 over the Russian-backed rebel regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which Moscow recognised as independent states after the war.
Western nations insist the regions are still a part of Georgia.
In the column, the authors recalled the appeasement of the Nazis in the 1930s and the courage of dissidents in the 1980s leading to the fall of the Iron Curtain as events relevant to the case of Georgia today.
"To deplore or celebrate past events is a futile act if we remain blind to their lessons," the authors wrote.
"A big power will always find or engineer a pretext to invade a neighbour whose independence it resents. Hitler accused the Poles of commencing hostilities in 1939; Stalin blamed the Finns when he invaded in 1940."
They said Europe had no interest in reviving the tensions of the Cold War but that a failure of Western democracies to respond to the "dismemberment of a friendly nation" could have global consequences.
"It would be disastrous if we were to appear in any way to condone the kind of practices that plunged our continent into war and division for most of the last century."
The column ran in Britain's Guardian newspaper, France's Le Monde, Die Welt in Germany and Corriere della Sera in Italy.