Lithuanian-Polish honeymoon is over (?)

October 11, 2007 at 2:22 pm 2 comments

Two presidents during the conferenceThe largest Lithuanian daily Lietuvos Rytas published an article today.  Even though some developments took place since the article was published but the feeling in Lithuanian in the morning was such.  The BNS agency translated it, have a look.

“The sonorous speeches about strategic partnership between Poland and Lithuania, the joint energy and political front against Russia in shatters.”“The honeymoon between Warsaw and Vilnius is over, crisis in bilateral relations continues deepening.” “Poles slap Lithuanians on the face.”These are the headlines published by Lithuania’s largest daily newspaper Lietuvos Rytas on Thursday to describe the negotiations on the energy bridge from Lithuania via Poland to Western Europe, which ended without a result on Wednesday.During the talks that lasted into early hours of Tuesday and all day Wednesday, Lithuanian politicians and diplomats made every effort to ensure signing of the vital document during the Vilnius conference of energy security. The document was expected to become one of the main results of the forum.

The international event is intended to search for ways of liberating from energy dependence on Russian resources.However, all attempts to persuade the Poles were unsuccessful. The official version was the failure to prepare all necessary documentations. Both parties exchanged promises to prepare the documents and sign the agreement by the end of the month. Yet there are growing doubts that the agreement would be signed, said the Lietuvos Rytas.The political move of Poland’s top officials seconded the threats made by the country’s Economy Minister Piotr Wozniak who last week started to unexpectedly blackmail Lithuania.During his stay in Vilnius last week, Wozniak said directly that Lithuania was ought to provide Poland with the bulk of electricity generated by the future power plant to prevent stalling of the energy bridge project.

After the statement, some political reviewers guessed whether this could be the minister’s personal stance, which reflected the political turmoil in Poland, or the Warsaw attempt to check Lithuania’s reaction in order to see the yielding Lithuania was willing to make.Nevertheless, Wozniak’s statements were verbatim restated by Polish President Lech Kaczynski on Wednesday, said the Lietuvos Rytas.Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus made a last-ditch attempt to dispel the black clouds: “We did not sign the agreement on the (energy) bridge for the sole reason that the documents had not been prepared in time, but this project has to be carried out. I think we will sign the document by the end of this month.”Lithuanian diplomats made no secret of their disappointment and frustration. Some of them described the Polish move as a huge mistake.

Even before the official statement about delay in the signing, Lithuania’s former foreign minister, MP Antanas Valionis, forecasted this would cause a crisis in Lithuanian-Polish relations.“What can we do. We waited for this for 16 years, we can wait a few more days. I still believe we had not been deceived and the Poles will not follow the former German leader Gerhard Schroeder who later received a position with the Russian concern Gazprom,” said Valionis.“We will see soon whether the routine promise would become reality,” the daily cited a top-ranking Lithuanian diplomat as saying. In his opinion, Lithuania will issue a strong-worded response to the Polish blackmailing about influence in the future power plant. “We have to reinforce our work in the direction of an energy bridge with Sweden. This should make our neighbours get real. In the purely economic sense, they need the energy bridge just as much as we do,” said the diplomat.Asked to name the true causes of Polandn’s procrastination, he referred to a few: “First of all, this is an eternal problem with Poland, which came to light during the negotiations over Mazeikiu Nafta (Mazeikiai Oil). The Economy Ministry is thinking in a narrow and simple manner – percent, megawatts, maximum profit. Figures of the large country view Lithuania and the other Baltic states superiorly and are, therefore, unable to see the strategic and geopolitical level. However, our hope is always their President’s Office and we are trying to work hard with it.”

In the diplomat’s words, another reason behind the procrastination is the Oct. 21 parliamentary elections in Poland. The Polish president also referred to the factor in the Wednesday’s talks. A political force headed by the Polish president and his twin brother Jaroslaw Kaczynski stands a chance of staying in power, however, they may have to share it with the Liberals who are currently in opposition.“The president is unwilling to give his opponents an opportunity to accuse him of failure to defend Poland’s interests. And the so-called Polish interests have always been one of his main political slogans,” the diplomat told the Lietuvos Rytas.Source BNS

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Entry filed under: Baltic States, Economics, Energy, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Northern Europe, Oil, Poland, Politics, Scandinavia, Sweden.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mel  |  October 11, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    The Poland of today and the Poland of pre-EU is different. In a way, the Poland of today is the one symbolised by the Kaczynscy — assertive — compared to the more relaxed (and arguably less principled) days of Kwasniewski. This sounds more like Valdemaras being yelled at, frankly…

    Ever since the rise of Kaczynscy into the 2 major offices, Poland has changed. It has become very self-assured, if not arrogant in its demands. It has become the “dread” of many “Old Europe” capitals worried that Poland may use its physical weight (and not economic…or lack of) to force things they’ve had no influence over in the past.

    Problem is that Poland’s current leadership does not want to be diplomatic. This current leadership wants what it feels it is due, and that is scary — that has a very “post-colonian” feel to it, like an entitlement.

    Sure, Poland helps the Balts stand up to Russia while everyone else (especially the Hungarians) kowtow to Moscow. But that is for self-interest. Do you really think Poland would have argued over the pipeline if it was in Polish territory(and still bypassing the Baltics)? Now they do the same thing with Ignalina II — they want more than they give, and they demand more than they negotiate.

    It is just the new style. Maybe after the elections you’ll have a Donald Tusk or someone to run things more responsibly, but I doubt it. Though Poland is nowhere as lost as Latvia is, it is a mess. And that’s why everyone is emigrating. Before the last round of EU enlargement, the emigration patterns fit — the 2 strongest economies (Slovenia and Estonia) had the least emigration per capita, while the two weakest (Latvia and Poland) had the most. Kaczynscy, as well as idiots like Kalvitis, don’t realise people quit their countries these days not just out of economic frustration, but also of general disgust at how the country is run.

    Kirkilas is lucky, he has a minority government so they can avoid all the major pitfalls and act as a “caretaker”. Plus, he’s got a president that’s slowing down very quickly and a relative novice as Seimas chair. A far cry from the mess of the late 1990s with that Adamkus/Vagnorius/Landsbergis hydra that tried to bite each other.

    Does that mean weak (and possibly minority) governments actually do the most good (or the least harm) in these countries?

    Reply
  • 2. Is the Lithuanian-Polish honeymoon over II? « Lituanica  |  October 12, 2007 at 11:06 am

    […] 12, 2007 It would be fair to say that the Lithuanian and Polish strategic partnership will be never the same for a very long time.  The Summit achieved a lot, brought the nations from various different […]

    Reply

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