Lithuania in the News
31st May 2008
Lithuania’s Firm Diplomatic Stand is Vindicated
Foreign Affairs Ministers meeting President Adamkus. (L-R) Radoslaw Sikorski of Poland,
Dmitrij Rupel of Slovenia, Petras Vaitiekûnas of Lithuania, Carl Bildt of Sweden
with President Valdas Adamkus of Lithuania in the middle.
Photo courtesy President of Lithuania website.
Lithuania has been taking the role of a regional leader on NATO and European Union expansion and in bringing to attention security issues in its neighbourhood. Recent events have shown Lithuania taking a firm stand and making its voice heard.
At the recent NATO leaders meeting in Bucharest April 2-4, 2008, just when the doors of NATO membership seemed to be closing for Ukraine and Georgia, the negotiating skills of Lithuania’s President Adamkus saved the day and secured for Georgia and Ukraine the promise of future NATO membership. This brought back pictures of déjà vu, when President Adamkus’ negotiating skills secured agreement on the European Union Reform Treaty in 2007, for which he was honoured as the European of the Year for 2007 (News archive on this website - 27/11/2007 - President Adamkus Honoured).
More recently, in the preparations for negotiations between EU and Russia on a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, due to start in June 2008, Lithuania has been insisting that a number of issues vital to Lithuania be included in the proposed negotiations agenda. These include the blocked "Druzhba" oil-pipeline, compensation for persons deported from the occupied Baltic States, the "frozen" conflicts in Georgia and Moldova and legal cooperation, in particular in bringing to justice the perpetrators of the 1991 massacres in Medininkai and Vilnius.
Lithuania was threatening to veto the start of the negotiations in the event of non inclusion of these issues in the negotiations agenda. Lithuania’s stand caused quite a storm in the capitals of "old Europe", producing at times quite discordant debate, with a number of the older EU members wanting to start negotiations as soon as possible and quite confronted by Lithuania’s position. However Lithuania stood its ground, withstood tremendous diplomatic pressure, withstood at times quite acrimonious arguments, but in the end achieved diplomatic victory, with the inclusion of all its points in the negotiations mandate. Very hard work by Lithuania’s diplomats ensured that Lithuanian’s stand on the questions of principle was vindicated.
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and
President Valdas Adamkus of Lithuania deep
in discussions at the NATO Bucharest forum.
Photo courtesy President of Lithuania website.
The flurry of diplomatic activity saw Dmitrij Rupel, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Slovenia, currently presiding over the EU, making a hurried visit to Vilnius on 11 May to meet his Lithuanian counterpart, Petras Vaitiekûnas, and the Foreign Affairs Ministers of Poland and Sweden. A working dinner and negations long into the night saw all four foreign ministers coming to Lithuania’s point of view, confirmed with a written agreement. The four foreign affairs ministers were then joined by the Foreign Affairs Minister of Latvia in a trip to Georgia to demonstrate EU’s support to Georgia in its stand off with Russia. Some further objections from a few EU Foreign Ministers again saw Lithuania take the diplomatic offensive. The final EU-Russia negotiations mandate was approved on May 26 in Brussels, with the inclusion of all the points Lithuania was insisting on.
In parallel with these diplomatic activities there was the State Visit to Lithuania by President Yushchenko of Ukraine on May 22, during which a joint declaration was signed, declaring Lithuania and Ukraine strategic partners and laying down guidelines for further bilateral cooperation. This was followed by President Kaczynski of Poland visiting President Adamkus in Vilnius and the two Presidents then meeting up the Presidents of Latvia and Estonia in Riga, from where they all travelled to the Ukrainian capital Kiev for the Energy Security Summit May 22-23. This summit was a follow on from the Vilnius Energy Security Conference 2007, held October 10 -11, 2007 (News archive on this website - 14/10/2007 - Vilnius in the Spotlight).
This wide ranging and successful diplomatic activity will be very useful to Lithuania, when Lithuania takes up the presidency of Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 2011. Even before that, in June 29 - July 3, 2009, Vilnius will host about 600 parliamentarians from 56 countries for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly meeting.
Further information: May 12,13,14,23,26 2008 May 9 2008