One need not be knowledgeable in politics to be able to say that we live in a period of change. Putin‘s Russia is unpredictable and aggressive, seeking to break down the world order developed after the fall of the Soviet Union. It is paradoxical, but its chief ally in this question is the president of the United States of America, Donald Trump. His unexpected statements on social media and his policies make both US friends and non-friends think twice. Let us not venture to consider today, whether it is good or bad, let us simply state the fact, Virginijus Savukynas comments on lrt.lt.
After stating it, it’s worth for Lithuania to give thought. The times when we could unconditionally trust the European Union and NATO have ended. The seemingly monolith giants today leave doubts, whether they are truly effective. And what is their role in the new order? Where is Lithuania’s place?
Prior to answering this question, we should raise another: what are Lithuania’s interests? It is not enough to just say that it is security and economic welfare. Show me a country that is not seeking security and economic growth. We need to outline specific interests. The political elite seems to not have the answers so we must help it.
First, the question of the European Union. The European Union is a truly excellent project, which has proven its use: so far, war between the Union’s members has not occurred. And this is a great deal if we look at history. But what of the Europe of the future? It is obvious that it is not the Europe of Brussels. Brussels bureaucrats, closed in their offices, detached from reality, cannot propose a model for the future. Quite the contrary, they stubbornly push that which the European people do not want.
It is clear that national identity has not vanished anywhere, it is very important. Meanwhile the enchantments repeated by Brussels bureaucrats cause uproar from Greece to Poland. Brussels bureaucrats repeat like a broken record that we need more European-ness, but the issues is that it is unclear, what European-ness is if we shed the Christian roots of our civilisation. Lithuanian intellectuals and politicians could greatly contribute to discussions of what the new European-ness is. That is certainly in the interest of Lithuania.
Second question: the European Union is no longer monolith. We see a confrontation between Western and Central Europe. Poland openly discusses numerous issues with Brussels. But where is Lithuania in this? Are we going together with Poland or are we listening to Germany? Or perhaps France is our strategic partner? Have we ever heard such discussions in Lithuania? We haven’t. But after all, having an answer to this question is our strategic interest.
We should not forget Latvia and Estonia either. After all, we are the Baltic States, we have an unfortunate common past. If we coordinated our positions, our voice would be more audible.
Israel is very important in the contemporary world. What are our relations like with it? If we say that it is our partner, why did we not support the US embassy’s move to Jerusalem? You do not do that to your friends.
And of course, the United States. How do we build our relations with this country? After all, it is clear that good relations with this super state are vital to us. Solely saying that they are our partners is not enough. After all, we know that D. Trump is clashing with the European Union. Which side should we choose? Or perhaps we should just stand aside? Perhaps. But where are the studies, where are the politicians, who would present one or another line of argument?
The changing circumstances are especially threatening to small countries with such neighbours as Russia. However, it yields opportunities as well. The Lithuanian state’s interest is to be visible on the world map. Thus, we need active diplomacy. Of course, many will say that a small country cannot allow itself anything. That’s true, but a small country can act as a mediator very well. Why couldn’t Lithuania be a mediator in resolving at least our region’s questions? In this case, being small is only an advantage – large states are not suspicious of us.
Obviously, I did not exhaust all questions about Lithuanian interests in this brief comment. However, there is a vital interest for there to be as large, loud and deep discussions on this as possible. After all, it is a discussion about the future of our children.