The weakness of the open letters and petitions often lies in their colourless vocabulary and content representing the point of concurrence of the opinions of the individual petitioners. That is not the case of the letter by former presidents of central and eastern European countries to Obama’s administration signed last week by people like Havel, Walesa, Kwasniewski, Adamkus and Constantinescu. All representatives of one political generation. Disregarding the fact that the text, where Czech authorship can be felt, has little chance of influencing the US president’s policy it still has a great importance. Thanks to clear vocabulary and opinions it offers a surprisingly insightful analysis of the current state of affairs that even the top think tanks needn’t be ashamed of.
With an unprecedented openness, the authors state that the US foreign policy ceased to be interested in the central and eastern European countries and their leaders today often need to fight to be even heard out by Washington. This region is far from being settled, quite the contrary, it stands on “political crossroads” and is being permeated by nervousness. A new generation of political “realists” who have not experienced the US key role in the democratisation process after 1989 is coming. In addition, there is an economic crisis and political changes “offer opportunities for powers of nationalism, extremism and anti-Semitism”.
Moreover, Russia is returning as a “revisionist power pursuing a 19th-century agenda with 21st-century tactics and methods “, “using economic warfare ranging from energy blockades and politically motivated investments to bribery and media manipulation” against this region. Authors of the letter are worried that the US and the European powers will accept Medvedev’s plan for a “Concert of Powers” and they warn against new Yalta.
The “realists” might reproach the letter for being untactical since it will anger not only the Russians but also western Europe and its addressee in Washington. The authors have obviously decided that the situation is too serious and that their political legacy is in the hands of those naïve “realists” who have no idea of the political principles of the European history. There is no time and reason for tactics – they are retired presidents even if they are renown in the world.
There is something else the authors can be reproached for: that they have not presented their letter to their local public, since that is what matters the most. Political generation that brought the countries of our region into NATO and EU admits in the letter that its power is fading. However, if it still can call across the ocean, it should also have enough strength to speak at home.