Monday, October 23, 2006

Putin to Europe: Don't lecture me.

EU: Putin has the personal insult routine down pat.

"...The Europeans went in saying bravely that that they would tackle Mr Putin over human rights issues, like the recent murder of a political journalist, and calling on him to loosen the state monopolies in oil and gas development if he wanted a relationship of trust. That stance was the stronger for being shared by Russia's closest economic partner, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor. Pleasantry knocked aside But Mr Putin's response was sharp. He told the Europeans Russia would set its own terms on energy supplies, and not sign the Energy Charter Treaty, as they asked. Challenged about corruption and failings in the rule of law in Russia, he asked why officials had been sent to jail in Spain, and annoyed some in Italy with his quip that "mafia is not a Russian word". Challenged over the economic embargo on Georgia, he accused that tiny state of planning to settle its disputes with Russia with bloodshed. Some of the Europeans were shocked. So the meeting in Lahti, Finland, had few concrete results. But the mask of pleasantry has been knocked off. At the next EU-Russia summit next month it may not be possible to put the really tough issues aside with jokes or jibes. "

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