Will Lithuania Turn Its Foreign Policy Course?

Lithuanian press review.

Lithuanian Mass Media have given little attention to the foreign policy of the country after the election of a new President. Only on the eve of Presidential elections the main candidate on this post Dalia Grybauskaite was asked the same question, whether the turn of foreign policy course of Lithuania is possible.

Political analyst Laurynas Kasciunas, thinks that this turn is very real. However, Lithuanian Mass Media, followed by Russian Mass Media spread comments of Grybauskaite that led Polish edition Rzecz Pospolita to the conclusion that we should orient on West but not on East. But the geography of visits of Lithuanian Foreign Minister Vygaudas Ušackas proves that foreign policy vector is not changing at the moment.

The edition Valstybe (State), in its last issue devoted two articles to a new President of Lithuania. In one of them the edition comments on the struggle of Grybauskaite with oligarchs, in another it emphasizes a gender aspect. Foreign policy is still not covered. Mainly Lithuanian Mass media write on domestic policy and potential actions of the new President within this field. She received congratulations also from the President of Belarus and Russia. And, naturally, from the USA President Barak Obama.

During last month Minister Usackas held a number of meetings with Russian representatives, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. We can hardly state that the ruling conservative party view positively the “pragmatism” within relations with an eastern neighbor, but not with “neighbors”. Thus, a conservator Emanuelis Zingeris suggested Usackus to “keep silent” sometimes, however before he suggested to turn Vilnius into the center of the EU and Eastern neighbors cooperation, that proves the idea prevailing within ruling coalition about maintenance of “eastern vector” within policy.

All resulting thoughts: energy security, implicating energy independence from Russia, the support of “new democracy” countries. It’s typically, that the view on foreign policy matches with the USA interests in Central Asia region. But, as resulted from the summit in Prague, Europe is involved with it as much as the USA.

Veidas (Face) edition commented recent statements of Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski on the occupation of Vilnius by Poles between wars. In this respect the observer Audrius Baciulis wrote that D. Grybauskaite “can easily find common ground with Donald Tusk”, what considering the leadership of Poles in Eastern region can mean the maintenance of Lithuanian foreign policy, the policy of new democratic states support.


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Usackas stated during his interview for DELFI portal, that there will be no fundamental turns in foreign policy of the new president, noting that “the foreign policy principles won’t change, only the shape can”.

D. Grybauskaite specified during the interview for Baltic News Service, that Minister Usackas lacks of political power, which incited rumors about potential change of Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Already in March the site geopolitica.lt published an article of Vadim Volovoy “Grybauskaite and Foreign Policy of Lithuania”, in which he analyzed pre-elections ideas of Grybauskaite about foreign policy.

Within her first claims on foreign policy the candidate specified that foreign policy of Lithuania should be balanced. For example, during an interview for Lietuvos Rytas she said: the objective of any country foreign policy is to defend the interests of country, to preserve dignity and respect neighbors.

Till now Lithuania has behaved as an unconfident state, having friendly relations with these, and ignoring others. I’m talking about our eastern policy within former Soviet territory. Just little attention is given to Western Europe and the EU countries. I mean that so far Lithuanian foreign policy has been unbalanced. Interests of Lithuania weren’t of priority, but the interests of individual groups and interests”.

V. Volovoy wondered whether this meant that if Grybauskaite became a President, than Lithuania would cooperate less with Georgia and Ukraine and more with the EU, Russia and Belarus?

So far Grybauskaite hasn’t sounded what will be foreign policy of the new Lithuanian President.

Mass Media also give little attention to the meeting of Baltic Sea States representatives, i.e. the countries of Northern Europe and Baltic states. Considering prospect chair of Sweden in the EU. Also there are no analyses of prospective Presidency of Lithuania in OSCE in 2011. News agencies spread the information coming from the press-service of Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, the geography of Usackas visits is pretty sound.

Almost all messages for the press, dwelling on the visits of the Minister to other states, note that Lithuania talks about assistance, experience exchange in the framework of prospective Presidency in this organization.

As for energy security, the main subject is the shot-down of Ignalina NPP, energy bridge with Sweden, Nord Stream and the problem of alternative energy sources.

Thus, for example, two articles of Valstybe magazine are devoted to Danish and European practice of electric power production with wind generators, that are able to assure the needs of Lithuania. Lithuanian people also care about Baltic NPP construction in Kaliningrad region. 

Site geopolitika.lt comments on Ignalina NPP shut-down:

“It is not known when a new plant will be build. The energy situation in Lithuania remains complicated and the prospects are unclear”.
Translation from Lithuanian