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21 Feb, 2007 16:01

Congressman Lantos finishes his visit to Moscow

Congressman Lantos finishes his visit to Moscow

The chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Tom Lantos has wrapped up his 3-day official visit to Moscow. During this visit, Mr Lantos made a statement crucially important to Russia.

This was Tom Lantos' first official visit to Russia, as the chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Mr Lantos, a Democrat from California, was known as one of Russia's harshest critics.

Claiming human rights violations, the congressman used to call for Russia to be expelled from the G8 (the Group of industrialised countries). 

However, during this visit, Mr Lantos was noticeably less critical. Moreover, he called for end of Jackson-Vanik amendment, which was signed by the U.S. President Ford as far back as in 1974.

“The bill denies normal trade relations to countries with non-market economies that restrict immigration rights – and was mostly targeting communist and post communist states. But since 1994, Russia has been found in compliance with the amendment's freedom of emigration requirements,” stressed Mr Lantos.

According to him, upon joining the WTO, the Unites States must offer Russia, as any other member of the organisation, normal trade relations, which make its annulment essential.

Tom Lantos suggested that such remnants from the Cold War should be left behind.

“I believe that putting an end to the Jackson-Vanik amendment is in the national interests of both Russia and the USA. I will spare no effort to bring this about, and I have every expectation that I will be successful. Terminating the Jackson-Vanik amendment will be to facilitate Russia’s joining the WTO, which I think will be of great benefit to Russian people,”  Tom Lantos said.

Some experts suggest that Tom Lantos changed his opinion on Russia in view of laying grounds for the U.S. foreign policy plans after 2008, when both Russia and the USA will hold presidential elections.

As if to support this position, Mr Lantos also commented on the controversial issue of a Soviet memorial in Estonia that is about to be removed.

Tom Lantos, the only ever holocaust survivor in the history of the U.S. congress, believes it is appropriate to commemorate the heroism of liberator armies with monuments in every country that was freed from Hitler's rule.