“His victory would be bad news for Lithuania and all other countries of the European Union, especially for those who pin their hopes on US commitments in the field of defence,” Liekis, dean of the Political Science and Diplomacy Faculty at Vytautas Magnus University, believes.
He spoke in comment on Trump’s statement to the US media where he said that if Russia attacked the Baltic states, he would consider whether to come to their defence and see whether those nations “have fulfilled their obligations to us”.
“It would be naïve to think that this is just rhetoric that has nothing to do with his attitude, especially since foreign policy is not his priority as a politician,” said the political scientist.
Trump is a reflection of the isolationist stance of the majority of ordinary Americans, Liekis believes. Most care little for the US international agenda, while domestic issues have moved up on the priority list in the wake of local crises, like the one sparked by shootings of black citizens by the police.
Meanwhile political scientist Kęstutis Girnius of Vilnius University is convinced that the statement was part of Trump’s election campaign. Various signals show his stance will change, if he becomes the president of the United States, according to Girnius.
Moreover, Girnius says, the statement was primarily intended as a message to Germany, not the Baltic states.
Lithuania has for a long time lagged behind NATO Allies in terms of military spending, but started raising its defence budget fast in the past years in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine and its military activity in the Baltic Sea region.
According to the 2017 budget draft, defence spending should account for 1.79% of GDP or about €725 million, Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius said earlier this week.
The government envisages that the defence budget should reach the 2% target set by NATO in 2018.
Foreign minister: New president won’t upturn US foreign policy
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius thinks that the US foreign policy will not change substantially after the nation elects its new president.
“The traditions that have evolved in America over the centuries, its two-party system of the Republicans and the Democrats have formed a certain legacy, potential and inertia. I believe we should not expect any sharp turns,” he said in an interview with the daily Lietuvos Žinios published on Friday.
The country’s top diplomat noted that Lithuanians have reliable and friendly ties both with the Republicans and the Democrats.
“Whatever choice the Americans make, we will respect it as the US has always been, even in the critical geopolitical moments for us, our most important ally and it will certainly remain so,” he said.