America and all of Europe also want to see Russia in the category of healthy, vibrant democracies. Yet in Russia today, opponents of reform are seeking to reverse the gains of the last decade. In many areas of civil society -- from religion and the news media, to advocacy groups and political parties -- the government has unfairly and improperly restricted the rights of her people. Other actions by the Russian government have been counterproductive, and could begin to affect relations with other countries. No legitimate interest is served when oil and gas become tools of intimidation or blackmail, either by supply manipulation or attempts to monopolize transportation. And no one can justify actions that undermine the territorial integrity of a neighbor, or interfere with democratic movements.
Russia has a choice to make. And there is no question that a return to democratic reform in Russia will generate further success for its people and greater respect among fellow nations. Democratization in Russia helped to end the Cold War, and the Russian people have made heroic progress in overcoming the miseries of the 20th century. They deserve now to live out their peaceful aspirations under a government that upholds freedom at home, and builds good relations abroad.
None of us believes that Russia is fated to become an enemy. A Russia that increasingly shares the values of this community can be a strategic partner and a trusted friend as we work toward common goals. In that spirit, the leading industrialized nations will engage Russia at the Group of Eight Summit in St. Petersburg this summer. We will make the case, clearly and confidently, that Russia has nothing to fear and everything to gain from having strong, stable democracies on its borders, and that by aligning with the West, Russia joins all of us on a course to prosperity and greatness. The vision we affirm today is of a community of sovereign democracies that transcend old grievances, that honor the many links of culture and history among us, that trade in freedom, respect each other as great nations, and strive together for a century of peace.
Friday, May 05, 2006