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  Lithuania is active again in the geopolitical space

Česlovas Iđkauskas, political analyst
2007 03 07

www.epiloglaser.com/baltic.htmAlienation of Minsk from Moscow and hints of A. Lukashenka on the search for closer relations with the EU and democratic world, indicate that geopolitical situation in the neighborhood of Lithuania might change substantially. Quite an important role in these changes is devoted to Vilnius.

The tension between Russia and Belarus observed at the beginning of January seems to disappear, however, relations of these countries remained pragmatic and cold. Although Minsk and Moscow reached certain compromise on gas and oil prices, nothing has left from former friendship.

Certain gestures of President A. Lukashenka indicated that he has started to dance to the tune of the West. The West has noticed that.  President of the United States G.Bush, while delivering his speech for the American governors–republicans, said: „we will persistently seek to ensure freedom everywhere where we are capable of doing that, i.e. in such countries as Cuba, Belarus and Burma“. G.Bush as if suggests to A. Lukashenka: if you direct your policy towards the West, we would support you in the sphere of freedoms and human rights. This bargain has a very specific goal: Belarus shall join the states of the world directing their policies towards the establishment of democracy. 

An important sign of Minsk, indicating its wish to come closer to the West, were unexpected compliments of A. Lukashenka to Ukraine and its president V.Yushchenko, expressed at the beginning of December of the last year: „in case if Belarus and Ukraine become a confederate state everybody would treat it seriously... The leader of Ukraine has always appealed to me“. Then, during the afloat of the energy crisis, at the press conference organized for the Ukraine journalists, A. Lukashenka highlighted the energy security of Belarus once and again and expressed criticism towards Moscow. In this respect situation of Belarus is worse that that of Ukraine, which has also experienced the blow of Russia: V.Yushchenko has more friends in Europe than A. Lukashenka.

In view of the above, a natural question arises: to what extent a possible renewal process of Belarus could be related to its current leader, „the last dictator of Europe“? Belarus might be faced with a problem: towards the West with A. Lukashenka or without him?   

It is not the first time when the mission for inclusion of Belarus into the democratic world is assigned by the EU to Lithuania. The interview of Prime Minister of Lithuania G.Kirkilas to the EU news agency „EUobserver“ on 23 February is quite symptomatic. According to Prime Minister, Brussels entrusted Lithuania „to elaborate the plan for a departure of A.Lukashenka“. G.Kirkilas refused to comment „what strategy of departure“ could be used by A. Lukashenka – departure of president to a country like Venezuela, or total restoration of friendly relations with the EU etc.

„While getting prepared for the strategy, we have to send ambassadors for informal conversation, for instance, the former president of Lithuania, who speaks Russian. A. Lukashenka shall take relevant steps [e.g. release the leader of opposition Aleksandr Kozulin – EUobserver“], however, we have to work and communicate with him“. While speaking about that, our Prime Minister could have had in mind not only former head of Government Algirdas Brazauskas, but also former president of Poland A.Kwasnewski.

Why has Lithuania been chosen for this honorable, but quite a difficult mission? Its relations with Belarus are the closest in comparison to other EU Member States. There still are people who remember a common  state which had existed for short while. In March 1918 the Soviet Russia and Poland had occupied the then independent Belarus (it had remained independent until summer of 1919), and in spring of 1921 divided the country for good. Belarus had become an independent state again in 1991, after the fall of the USSR. Although in terms of the Byelorussian export Lithuania takes only the 10th place, and in respect of import – the 12th, the neighborly relations oblige Lithuania with its three times smaller population to pay more attention to the development of democracy in Belarus. Who knows, in the future this could bear fruit…   

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