Nausėda on Russia: let’s not fool ourselves

The Kremlin / Scanpix

Speaking at the annual Eastern European Studies Centre conference, President Gitanas Nausėda stated that Lithuania has no other choice than to invest in its defence. The head of state emphasised that we should not fool ourselves regarding Russia, but meanwhile, it is possible and necessary to interact with Belarus, Jūratė Važgauskaitė wrote in

In the annual foreign policy conference, the president spoke about the necessity to defend ourselves, allocate funding for defence and not fool ourselves with superficial talks about the large neighbour.

He emphasised that the international environment is rapidly changing: the world is transforming, new powers are emerging, new rules of the game are emerging.

“In the face of such international turbulence, existential threats always grow for small countries, threats of their voice, sometimes their shouts being heard. But we learn from our history,” the president said.

Thinking of defence

He emphasised the necessity to strengthen defensive capacities and to feel safe.

“With talks emerging ever more often and eve more loudly that European defensive commitments must be strengthened independently of America, upon hearing such declarations, I recall words present on the Town Hall’s wall. “Everyone, who chooses Lithuania as their enemy will also become the enemy of the United States of America.” Only an earnest, committed friend can say such words,” the president reminded of the US president’s visit.

According to G. Nausėda, US troops in Lithuania are a reminder that we are not and never will be alone. He explained that investment in defence is not a whim, but “an existential necessity.”

“Our country has no other choice than to invest in its defence. We should not fool ourselves with superficial talks about our large neighbour. Unfortunately, I hear fairly many such talks,” the president spoke.

Already questioning Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact

According to G. Nausėda, the situation and relations with Russia are not good; the giant neighbour has even begun questioning the occupation and annexation of the Baltic States despite recognising the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1989 and conceded it as illegal.

The president also declared that “Russia remains a long term challenge for the security of Lithuania and the Euro-Atlantic space.”

This, according to President Nausėda, makes one think and urges to not return to the “old order” and old understanding of international relations.”

“We cannot force Russia to do it if it does not wish to. However, we can and must stand by our decisions, not legitimise Russia’s illegal actions demand responsibility from it and defend what an existential basis for us is. […] Stabilising relations cannot be performed at the cost of universal values, sanctions must stand until Russia changes its behaviour,” the president stated, emphasising that for Lithuania, it is particularly important to coordinate the European and national agendas, work in unison.

That said, he emphasised that in terms of the European Union and Lithuania’s position there, recent proposals on the multi-year financial perspective are not acceptable to our country because they reduce the size of structural funds and could compromise the continuity of critical structural projects.

Russia and Belarus

He also spoke about the importance of not leaving Belarus to Russia’s embrace.

“The isolation of Belarus did not prove justified, but this does not mean that we are prepared to artificially warm relations. […] We will closely watch for our red lines to not be overstepped,” the president spoke.

According to him, diplomatic actions aiming for the integration of Belarus into Russia are concerning and it is a matter, where we could aid Belarus.

He also celebrated that the re-burial of rebels, which was held several weeks ago, featured not only a large group of Belarussian opposition figures but also the country’s vice prime minister, which according to G. Nausėda was not an easy decision for the Belarussians and did not receive the blessing of the Kremlin.

The president also expressed concern that Eastern Partnership questions in international for a are contracting into the side-lines of the political agenda.

Climate change will require billions

President G. Nausėda also spoke about the country’s future, the challenges presented by climate change. He assured that to enact the climate change commitments it had taken up, over a decade, Lithuania will have to allocate 14 billion euro to it.

“With Lithuania aiming to accomplish the commitments it has taken up by 2030, the extra measures could demand up to 14 billion euro expenses. Of these, almost 10 billion euro will have to be drawn from the state budget,” G. Nausėda said.

“This is a vast price, which we cannot manage to pay on our own,” he added.

The European Union has agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 by at least 40%. Based on commitments, Lithuania will have to reduce its emissions by 9%.

The largest challenges to accomplishing these pledges arise in Lithuania due to growing arable land area and the country’s ageing vehicle pool. G. Nausėda will be travelling to an EU summit meeting on Thursday that will be discussing climate change and the future multi-year union budget.

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