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  Lithuania is accused for contribution to „theexport of regions“

Povilas Þielys
2007 09 17

Lithuania is still among the five states, considered by the Russian society as the most unfriendly countries. Differently from Estonia and Latvia, the Russian speaking population in Lithuania is quite small and is satisfied with their situation. Therefore, with a view to sustaining the negative image of Lithuania, ideologists of the Kremlin have to search for more original options, disclosing Russo phobia of Vilnius.

However, they probably understand that it would be quite primitive to interpret the active Lithuanian Eastern policy as provocation of the „colored“ revolutions.  Therefore ideologists of the Kremlin started talking about the place of Lithuania in the global geopolitical schemes, by accusing the country for its provocations to revolt against the legitimate authorities of certain CIS states. And when talks are heard about the role of Vilnius in the strategy of suspension of Russia (executed by the United States), the impression of the Russians that Lithuania is antagonistic and aggressive state, increases even more.

Certainly, Moscow does not think that Lithuania is as an equal actor of the international policy. Therefore it chooses as an antagonistic „other“ not only Lithuania, but also the entire Baltic and Black Sea Region. Efforts of Lithuania and other neighboring states to promote co-operation within the above region are presented as part of the American political project and as an attempt to construct an artificial axis of the Baltic and BlackSeas.  This phenomenon is specified as „export of regions“ executed by the United States, in which Lithuania is also involved.

According to the Russian political analysts, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Americans started establishing regional derivatives.  Firstly, in 1997 the Northern European initiative has been suggested; it helped the United States to construct the North-Western European region (the axis of the Barrens and Baltic seas), and promote cooperation of the three Baltic States with Northern countries.

The same analysts say that later the Americans penetrated into the traditional Russian influence zone more deeply – they started establishing the Baltic and Black Sea Region.  By stating that the Russian authors in principle ignore the fact that the idea of the Baltic and Black Sea Region has a substantial historical background – the times of the Great Duchy of Lithuania. This idea has existed in the states of the Region from the very beginning of withdrawal from the USSR.  According to the ideologists of the Kremlin, the Americans started establishing the institutional and ideological background for the Baltic and Black Sea Region – for that they used the structure of GUAM, including the will of the Baltic States to exchange their experience with the eastern neighbors in the sphere of reforms.

In Russia the Baltic and Black Sea Region is considered an exceptionally political Project: the attempts are made to put the countries, belonging to the Region, into one place, although they are not related by any economic interests. The Russian political analysts also agree on functions attributed to the Region, the most important of which is to become a barrier between Russia and Western Europe. It is stated that with a view to preventing a possible ally of Russia and Western Europe, the United States has „exported“ the Baltic and Black Sea Region in order to prevent implementation of the Russian strategic interests. Lithuania, as one of the most active supporters of consolidation of the Region, automatically occurred among the major enemies of Russia.

Paradoxically, the key threat for Lithuania is not its relation with the „export of regions“, but participation of Moscow in the construction of the Baltic and Black Sea Region.

According to A.Makarychev, a professor of international relations from Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia is not only doing nothing so as to deny solidarity of the Baltic and Black Sea Region, but contributes to the construction of the region.  Ideologists of the Kremlin provoke nationalist feelings of its countrymen by taking the advantage of the image of “new Europe”,  antagonistic to Russia. For Moscow the Baltic and Black Sea Region is necessary as an argument that the United States try to surround Russia and reduce its impact in the post-Soviet space. The Kremlin presents this region as a contrast to „the true“ Europe.

Lithuania should consider the latter factor as one of the most worrying. Since the membership in the EU Vilnius seeks to neutralize bilateral contacts of Russia and major EU states which could affect the interests of our country. Lithuania wants to be sure that all the issues relevant to the country are not be considered without its participation. Whereas the efforts of Russia to compromise the new EU states are potentially harmful to solidarity in the sphere of foreign and security policy.

In conclusion it could be stated that the theory of „export of regions“ could survive as long as actions in the Black Sea Region are demonstrated only by the United States and new EU countries, and old EU Member States stand aback from this.  The current situation was well illustrated by the summit of GUAM held in Baku on 18-19 June 2007. Presidents of Lithuania, Poland and Romania, vice president of Bulgaria, vice chairman of the Estonian Parliament participated in the summit as guests, whereas the old Member States did not send their high officials to this event.

The talks on the „exported“ Baltic and Black Sea Region would stop to be potentially splitting Europe into pieces only if the situation changes. Then ideologists of the Kremlin will have to search for new „sins“ of Lithuania.

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