#16 - JRL 7006
Financial Times (UK)
January 6, 2003
The west's new chance in the east
From Mr Timothy Fenwick.
Sir, Your editorial, appearing in the same issue as John Lloyd's "Reform for the east made in the west" explaining how the west largely failed in its attempts to aid Russia in the 1990s, underscores the importance of the opportunity it now has to "get it right" in the Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus (January 2). In spite of the political woes of these three countries, all have educated populations, industrial traditions and great agricultural potential as the bread basket of Mittel Europa.
The wretched state of their populations allows them to be highly competitive, not only in farm products but also in a range of industrial products suitable for developing countries in such sectors as power generation and mining equipment.
European and US protectionism seems likely to stem the potential flow of exports from such sectors, forcing these countries to fall back on their other most highly developed industrial sector: armaments. They will sell arms to any regime that may be out there for these products. This will not only help to perpetuate a number of conflicts but will also shore up these countries' own failing regimes.
The opportunity for Europe is to open up to these essentially European countries and allow them to move nearer to the west, rather than feeding them with the diet of aid and advice that has so largely failed in Russia.
Treat these countries as potential equals and they will start to act as such - and much more quickly than the 10-15 years that your editorial suggests.
Timothy Fenwick, Senningerberg, L-2633 Luxembourg