Lithuania is not a monster after all
As the BNS agency informed the two thirds of respondents in the Russian Kaliningrad region hold favourable opinions of Lithuania, while every second have visited Lithuania after the international community recognized the Baltic state’s restored independence in 1991, shows a survey carried out for the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry.
It is a rather surprising result knowing that the Baltic States are constantly portrayed by the Kremlin controlled media as the Russia’s enemy Number one. It could be noted that Kaliningrad dwellers that are living just next door to ‘the enemy’ and constantly interacting with it, think that Lithuania is not a monster that the Kremlin ideologist portray it to be.
According to the poll performed earlier this month, 65% of those polled think of Lithuania positively and 15% have a negative opinion. Those who have visited Lithuania after 1991 are more favourably disposed towards the country (71% think of it positively).
The name of Lithuania and Lithuanians has dual associations for Kaliningrad residents: every fourth respondent thinks about difficulties they have encountered when entering the country (visas, customs passports, 5-7% think about the poor relations with Russia and Russians or have unpleasant memories. Some 9% of respondents think that Lithuania is a member of the European Union (EU).
Some 70% of those polled think of Lithuania as having a rich culture and a modern state attractive for tourists, while six out of ten believe that Lithuania is a country of nice and friendly people, as well as outstanding athletes.
Five out of ten respondents in Kaliningrad see the neighbouring Lithuania as politically stable, whereas 40% note its rapid economic development.
Respondents in the Kaliningrad region have split opinion about Lithuanian relations with Russia: 31% see the relations as good, 35% disagree and another 34% do not have an opinion on the matter.
Some 55% of those polled believe that the relations between Lithuania and Kaliningrad are medium – the opinion is more common among those who have visited Lithuania, people of senior age and living in rural areas.
Respondents with higher income and residing in the district’s cities hold the best opinion about Lithuanian-Kaliningrad ties.
Asked about what they think when crossing the Kaliningrad-Lithuanian border, 28 % said they thought: “Why can’t we have this?”, 25% – “Just like in our country” and 22% – “It is a modern and European state”. Merely 3% of those polled said their first thought was that Lithuanians could do things better.The best opinion about Lithuania in general is held by people of middle age, with higher income and residing in cities.
Those who have visited Lithuania tend to have a better opinion about the Baltic state, on the other hand, they also remember the difficulties encountered when crossing the border.
In the opinion of respondents, the biggest obstacle hindering closer cooperation between populations of Lithuania and Kaliningrad include border formalities and visas, Lithuanian membership in the EU and NATO and the stance of Lithuanian administration towards Russia.