Davos – Lithuania is obliged to make caution of possible dangers in relations with Russia
After few years of ignorance Davos organizers invited the Lithuanians to the Forum. This ignorance was due to the Lithuania’s unfortunate choice of the president Rolandas Paksas, who was impeached for the first time in the modern European history. Even though the order in the Lithuanian politics was restored the Davos organisers were ignoring Lithuania for few yeas. However, Lithuanian ‘come back’ is overshadowed by a ‘surprise’ from our ally – the USA.
This year the Lithuania’s President Valdas Adamkus is due to participate in the high level discussion about Russia and its relation to its neighbours. The discussion is due this evening. Just before departure to Davos the President Adamkus gave an interview to the Financial Times where he asked a rhetorical question “The question comes up whether a very strong financial recovery in Russia is a stimulus for the new Russian leadership to return to the cold war”. The President in the interview concluded that “It’s a big question mark. I don’t believe that at the present time any of us, big or small – the European Union, the US or other big powers – definitely has the answer. But I believe the same big question is in everybody’s mind in the western world.”
However, this rhetorical question arose a reaction. Not from the Kremlin but from Washington. Next day the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice noted that ‘Ladies and gentlemen, the recent talk about a new Cold War is hyperbolic nonsense.’
Some Lithuanian commentators claimed that this statement was not addressed to the Adamkus’ interview just a day earlier. As Prof Lopata stated to the BNS “When speaking in Davos, Rice was neither criticizing Adamkus nor had him in mind at all. She was talking about the general situation and relations with Russia, and actually noted that talking about a cold war with Russia at this time is nonsense”, the political scientist told BNS.
The other commentators stated that the phrase was directed exactly towards Adamkus and continued that Washington gently reminded Vilnius that it should not stick its nose to the Global politics. The American Forbes agreed with the latter opinion and ironically claimed that ‘Take that, Valdas’.
Lithuania’s Presidential press office responded that Rice words were not directed to President Adamkus and that during an interview to the Financial Times, Adamkus remarked that Kremlin was creating “unnecessary tensions” in the Baltics, much reminding of the cold war period. The BNS was told that “The president notes that Lithuania lives in the neighbourhood of Russia, and it is Lithuania’s obligation to warn about possible dangers and also pursue a common dialogue with Russia it is difficult, but unavoidable”.
Some in Lithuania is making far-reaching conclusions and questioning Lithuania’s active role in the Post Soviet states.
I must admit that I have some doubts about the benefits for Lithuania in ‘spreading democracy’ to the Russia’s neighbours. However, you like it or not the Lithuanian specialists are experts in the Russian politics, because they pay a lot of attention to what is happening there. Sometimes I think that we are paying to much attention towards East, meanwhile missing some huge political and economical shifts in the EU itself. Nevertheless, the policy and ideology shifts in Russia are alarming, and we would like to communicate that to the Westerners, who don’t really realise that.
At the time when Mr Putin took over the Kremlin I was living in the UK and I could witness when the Western specialists on Russia claimed that is a very welcome development. They loudly ridiculed warnings that Mr Putin is not a democrat and that he is turning Russia back to totalitarian status. Many of those voices were coming from Lithuania also, but we were called ‘Russophobes’.
Well, look what is happening in Russia now. Hence, maybe the West should listen to Adamkus rhetorical question?