Lithuania – there is no point of giving Medvedev any ‘diplomatic gifts’

April 28, 2008 at 12:33 pm Leave a comment

European Union’s will to ingratiate the rotating heads of the Kremlin lies behind EU’s pressure on Lithuania to refrain from vetoing talks with Russia over the new “Partnership and Cooperation Agreement”, a a high-ranking official of the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said to the BNS agency on April 25.  “The EU just wants to present the new president Dmitry Medvedev and outgoing Vladimir Putin with a gift, not worrying over who will keep the gift in hand. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will arrive to Luxembourg next week to claim the present”.

The BNS said that the diplomat again reminded of the principles of solidarity declared by Brussels and noted that Vilnius wants for EU’s interior policy on issues of energy to be stated in one voice, constructively and based on existing juridical norms. He added that Lithuania’s interest of solving “frozen conflicts” should also not be forgotten.

The Foreign Ministry’s representative mentioned a few issues unacceptable to Lithuania present in the purportedly compromising text declaring commencement of talks with Russia, prepared in a meeting of EU ambassadors in Brussels Thursday and sent to Lithuania.

The diplomat indicated to the BNS that there’s still time for pursuing a compromise over the negotiations mandate, i.e. two months, or until the end of June to be precise, when leaders of EU and Russia are to meet in Russia and hopefully begin talks over partnership. Lithuania would like to use this time for talks within the EU and polishing of rough edges.

He also noted that Vilnius is not satisfied with this stance taken by the EU with regards to “sensitive and complicated problems”.

“There’s still time, we would like to negotiate, however if this principle isn’t upheld, we will not back up a centimetre. We are a small nation, however one that is a part of the EU”, the Foreign Ministry official said.

Lithuania is also discontented about the tone of EU talks with Russia, which is aiming for “a new quality of relations”, as well as with other post-Soviet countries, especially those in South Caucasus.

“These are double standards, the so-called “Russia first” politics, completely disregarding observation of international commitments, i.e. how the Kremlin observes them”, the Lithuanian representative said.

As the Lietuvos Rytas daily mentioned in its editorial ‘Lithuania would like Medvedev’s term in office to become a turning point for Russia: It could become more European and more civilized. However, is this something we can expect?

Is it worth waiting and hoping for something? Or is it better to have a firm position from the start? This is what our diplomats – who have infuriated not only Moscow, but, it seems now also Brussels – demand.

Lithuania’s interests should be reflected in the mandate for the EU-Russia negotiations. In other words, Lithuania does not agree to launching the negotiations first, and only then seeking that the negotiations ensure Russia’s commitments important for Lithuania.

This means that Lithuania refuses to endorse Europe’s idea that the foundations for the new relations with the Kremlin should be built on the hope that once Medvedev becomes president, Russia can change, and that mutually beneficial agreements could be signed with this country, and that it will finally start playing in accordance with the game rules accepted by the international circles.

The idea that Medvedeved, called in the West a Kremlin liberal, can change Russia at least partially, has become one of the most important discussions in the international community, just as has another topic – whether Russia will be ruled by Medvedev or Prime Minister Putin.

Recent events show, in a way, that Putin is inclined to strengthen his political position as much as possible after he leaves the presidential post.’

The same editorial maintains that ‘Perhaps Russian experts or persons interested in Russia do find it interesting to forecast such things. However, those who create plans for relations with Moscow should realize that, at least in the near future, it is not worth expecting any changes.

A question arises then, what is the point of giving Medvedev any “diplomatic gifts?”

Is it yet another concession, hoping to warm the Kremlin’s heart? Have we not overdone it already? Have we not understood yet that such policy does not give any results? Or, perhaps, it is not worth starting any negotiations with Russia, until we have a firm negotiations mandate that reflects the interests of all the EU member states?

Experience of Lithuanian diplomacy shows that we achieved the greatest victories in negotiations with Russia when our country firmly held on to its positions and we could not allow ourselves to waver.

This is why such firmness is necessary also in the EU arena. And it does not matter how our country will be labelled by Moscow, or by its friends in Europe.’

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Entry filed under: Baltic States, Economics, Energy, EU, Lithuania, Northern Europe, Politics, Russia.

EU moves to stop Lithuania blocking pact talks with Russia Lithuania rated as having free press – Freedom House survey

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