About us     Activities     Announcements     Contacts 
 Other countries
 Reviews of the press
 Summer Academy

   We recommend:

   Our sponsors:

  Both the European Union and Lithuania are today passing an examination. Interview with the Member of the European Parliament Professor Vytautas Landsbergis

Liudas Zakarevièius
2006 04 07

Interviewed and prepared by Liudas Zakarevièius

Lithuania has already achieved its strategic goals: it joined the European Union and NATO but what aspects of the accession of both Lithuania and the Baltic States into the European Union are useful for Russia?

Russia will find it very useful if it has much influence in the Baltic States and especially if the Baltic States speak not their on but Russia’s voice coordinating policies and expressing friendly statements, in other words, what Russia wants. Already now the European Parliament may have a Lithuanian Member saying what Russia needs.

How do you assess Russia's long-term prospects of joining the European Union? Are Lithuania and all the other Baltic States interested in that?

All Europe would be interested in Russian democracy and Russia could not be accepted to the European Union as a non-democratic country. However the European Union may start giving up its principles (what is already the case to a certain extent). If it degrades down to the concept already proposed: democracy is not of some single kind and different structures may exist which will introduce unique "democracies", this criterion is no longer existent, it is washed out.  In such a case we justify any authoritarian or oligarchic state not respecting human rights as long as it claims to be a democracy. Thus, we return to Stalin’s times where all totalitarian systems have been referred to as "people’s" democracies.

If Russia as it is now or in a similar condition is accepted to the European Union, this would mean that the European Union is no longer European Union. Its key philosophical, moral and political principles should be changed. On the other hand, Russia sticks to a smart policy and is far from expressing a desire to be in the European Union because it then would be subject to many reproaches and requirements.

Russia seems to be waiting for the European Union to invite it. For all that to happen, Russia needs to change the European Union from outside.

In your opinion, is the course of Russia’s democratisation feasible?

The course of Russia’s democratisation is possible using only the potential of Russia itself, the necessity or benefit perceived.  Russians must understand that being a democracy is much more beneficial.  But it is still a long way to go. I really do not believe that the current regime will evolve towards democracy. At least it is not realistic so far.

Let us now return to Lithuania: we have just commemorated the 15th Anniversary of the 13thof January. How could Russia’s position towards compensation for damage done by the Soviet occupation of Lithuania change if this issue is officially raised in the bilateral format by the European Commission? What could be the response of Russia?

Namely this should be the goal of Lithuania but it may hardly be achievable for two reasons: first, Lithuania and its current authorities (and others similar thereto) do not seek that. Another thing is that for the European Union it would also be an examination like the announcement of our independence has been an examination both for the West (which have had all different projections as to their relations with the Soviet Union) and certainly for the Soviet Union itself.

To what extent could we expect for this examination to be passed successfully?

Difficult to say. Now this examination still seems theory. As far as I have "probed" the European Commission’s attitudes to certain offences suffered by Lithuania – including the issues of compensation for damage done by the occupation, embassies and seized deposits – I could state that the European Commission avoids those issues (by the way, like the issue of the Estonian border). One could see a desire to push those problems to the area of bilateral relations although such countries as ours should expect another approach of the European Union to the international problems (concerning third parties) of its Member State. This issue has been raised to the Council of Europe as well. There is sort of no answer to the question whether the Council of Europe will allow itself withdrawing as regards the border. Although that would discredit the EU in the view of all the new Member States. We will see what the answer by deeds will be because I have at last received a public verbal reply: the EU will support its Member State Estonia.

Can you as the Member of the European Parliament say that Russia’s position towards Lithuania after our accession to the European Union has changed, and if so, how has it changed?

It has not changed essentially. I see that from some statements and feel that Russia holds us to be its former part, maybe having escaped temporarily or escaped in such forms from which it is difficult to attract us back but it hopes to take us under its influence and authority by other means. This game is still under way but no longer formally incorporating us into that country but rather imposing informal influence to make Lithuania its "space". This way we can find ourselves in a difficult situation – formally in the European Union but dictated by Russia.

But then, could one hope that the stable democracies of the European Union would be of great support for Lithuania?

One should look hard for those European democracies stable in their principles. In general, there still are stable countries which are not afraid of Russia but as soon as they link their economic wellbeing or their ambitions to be a great global economic power with Russia’s support, they immediately become dependent.

Is that what you have previously called the regeneration of the European Union?

We could also say so. I have been asked for many years: could Russia join the European Union? My answer has been, is and will be very simple: this would mean that the European Union has joined Russia. To a certain extent this is the direction of today’s developments. First of all, this is no formal accession but a cultural denial of one’s identity, adoption of certain norms of Russia (if they can be referred to as norms at all) and rejection of own values adjusting to such quality of Russia as it is now. This is adjusting to a lower civilisation and cultural quality. This would really mean that Europe would become an annex to Russia. Of course, this is what Russia would want.

Another thing I would like to stress is Russia’s degradation. It is degrading both morally and demographically, and with its internal problems. It will hardly avoid the third collapse.

Europe must try to survive. No one knows how well it will be able to resist not only Russia’s economic and political domination which is increasing but also changes in its society. One must hope that this examination will be passed successfully.

The great trial for Europe has already come but Europe does not or is afraid to recognise that.

What are organisations of democratic choice, that is the initiative of Presidents of Georgia and Ukraine which is actually favourably assessed by President of the Republic of Lithuania Valdas Adamkus and the prospects of the regional GUAM organisation? Could they in the future become a substitute for the CIS but, of course, west-oriented?

I think that they are no substitute for the CIS. The CIS, according to President Putin himself, has been a temporary phenomenon, already obsolete. Putin wants to turn it into a more stable economic union, as announced in the times of the Ukrainian President Kuchma. These are Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan with the prospect that whoever wants to join (even non-CIS countries) will do so. These could be us, Bulgaria or anyone else. This is how Russia has imagined the restoration of its power through the union of four Slavic countries (although Kazakhstan is not a Slavic country, there are quite a few Slavs there).  Moreover, nothing much has remained of the CIS; the striving of the CIS countries which are not willing to be directly dominated by Russia to have their regional independence is becoming more prominent.

Russia naturally dislikes that. In general, we can view this striving as a formality rather than a devastating fact. It is now more relevant and by some countries is perceived as a certain support against Russia’s neoexpansionism. Russia will create hindrances to its realisation primarily through the official authorities of those countries which it will wish to put under control, maybe even by way of elections.

Now such a perspective has become prominent in Ukraine. Will Ukraine stick to the Western direction or will it be suppressed by the coalition of Yanukovich and Timoshenko controlled by Russia? What will remain of the Orange Revolution? Something might remain. A very acute internal conflict may become dominating because large regions may disagree with the returning domination of Russia which has already been in place. And still Ukraine is already different: even annexed, it will never be a Ukraine of Kuchma again. Even less will it be a Ukraine of Kravchuk. It has started moving along its own way. The same is true about Georgia. There is also Azerbaijan becoming quite independent although it is still not democratic. Kazakhstan is also quite independent, and who knows whether it really wants to merge with Russia.

Whether Russia again manages to attract Ukraine is what we will see very soon. Unfortunately, centrifugal forces are more evident there than centripetal forces, which is so desirable for Putin’s leading party and the entire KGB clan.

You are one of the greatest architects of Lithuania’s independence. How would you assess the current efforts of Georgia and Ukraine and their first steps towards democracy as the leader of the Sàjûdis, the Chairman of the Supreme Council and the current Member of the European Parliament?

For Lithuania democracy and its basic principles has been a way to independence. First, we had to rely on human rights, human dignity and the willingness of people to be "human towards themselves" (according to Vydûnas), have a country of their own and the right of choice. This was the way for us to arrive at the restoration of independence because that was how people exercised their right of choice. And then, according to the Sàjûdis agenda which was defined about a year and a half prior to the elections to the Supreme Council, the Lithuanian life was to be essentially reformed when developing a civil, free and open society governed not by privileged clans but by the rule of law; true justice and all other necessary things which we unfortunately failed to achieve would be created. We have partially moved forward but soon stopped and got stuck with the past.

I want to say that either people want to be free in their society and find the strength to demand it or they do not. Such processes are now under way in other countries as well. Georgia has historically been the state and the kingdom and had its own culture and civilisation.  This is still remembered.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has factually had no state of its own. It was formed as a nation and as a future state for centuries influenced by the Kievan Russia, and the Great Dukedom of Lithuania, and the Republic of Both Nations. This way it was formed different from Russia although the tsar ideology and propaganda, efforts and even prohibition of the Ukrainian language and literature stopped progress in the same 19th century when in Lithuania the press was prohibited. It was then that Moscow perceived the danger that the part of the empire which was insistently referred to not as Ukraine but as the Small Russia was becoming mature as a nation, and that was not desirable for the absolute unification of the empire, Russification and Orthodoxation of everything and all. This process of resistance is still going on in Ukraine.

Uneven democratisation of the nation which is much more mature in the western part but is problematic in the east does not yield much joy either. If Russia did not interfere and play games of its own there, the eastern part would undoubtedly sooner feel a part of Ukraine rather than Russia. However now there is a huge space for destructive games and efforts to undermine the European direction of Ukraine.

But both Ukraine and Georgia declare their willingness to integrate into international communities, for example, even NATO. What are the integration capacities of both countries?

Georgia’s capacities are greater also because its determination – that of the state authorities and the nation proper – is very clear and positive. Georgia wants to be more protected and integrated into the western structure because NATO is not only a military but primarily also a value structure. It is a union of democracies to defend together, if need be, and to protect those "united democracies". Georgia would like to be there, which is the most important, making a contribution of its own, to be a democracy defended by other democracies and make its own contribution to the joint defence. As there is political will and public consciousness, the decisive word will be that of NATO. The date of 2008 is optimal because it will be the year of the regular summit where the decision may be made.

Georgia is now quite quickly defining its goal. However both Bulgaria and Romania achieved their goals faster than expected because the NATO structure itself needed them.

Lithuania had to create a modern army compatible with NATO armies in terms of its quality and level of training. That was a great job performed within a short time. And Bulgaria and Romania were not even required to do that. In the end, resistance was not that big as towards Lithuania when Russia spared no effort to block the integration.

As regards Georgia, Russia will also strongly object it but if NATO countries, primarily the United States, the adoption of Georgia seems strategically important, this is what is probably going to happen. Russia could resist only by destroying the state of Georgia from inside and undermining it by confusion, revolutions or turns back to Russia, which is not very likely by democratic means. Now energy attacks are done out of anger and in willingness to try out one’s strength.

Meanwhile Ukraine’s possibilities of joining NATO are much more modest, first of all, due to the lack of political will in the society. The society is more affected by the old Soviet propaganda as well as the Russian propaganda claiming that NATO is evil. It suffices to remember the huge propaganda when NATO has interfered with the drama of the extrusion of Kosovo residents. NATO was portrayed as conquerors and attackers, and that might have made a stronger propagandistic impression on the Ukrainian people. It requires determination on behalf of the Ukrainian nation where it wants to be, with whom it wants to be and how to resist threats. If some part sees such a threat on behalf of NATO, a certain balance is created and the lack of determination is seen. If the larger part perceives the threat as coming from the East and views NATO as a guarantee of security, the situation would be totally different. However, perhaps, this is not the case yet.

Another hot issue is possibilities of formation of a union state of Russia and Belarus. How do you evaluate it and its prospects?

Everything depends on the Russian leader. Lukashenko himself is still there because Russia finds him useful. If the Russian authorities only wanted, Lukashenko would be replaced long ago. He is obviously held the best alternative: not very nice, not much liked but at the same in control of the situation. Belarus remains a test site because Russia does the same as Belarus but later and softer. However the direction is the same as the one followed by Lukashenko: introducing total control in a primitive, brutal and rude manner. Russia still does not control every person employed like in Belarus where you can be sacked at any moment for "political reasons". However the vector of fear is also present in Russia as the state is hardening.

Quite a few foreign political scientists and international political observers admit that military integration in the creation of the union state of Russia and Belarus is very advanced. In your opinion, can this military potential constitute a threat to Lithuania and other Baltic States?

It constitutes a very big threat as the Baltic States would not be able to resist such a potential on their own. And NATO protection (military, in particular) might also seem too slow and doubtful. Another thing is political protection for which Russia would just not find it rewarding to initiate such a conflict with the West. Russia would rather infiltrate into the West gradually than give a strong vaccine immediately and show who we actually are. This is how we survive in Lithuania. So the support of NATO is to a great extent political rather than directly military. Naturally, military protection would also raise a principal question: if in the case of a direct attack NATO capitulates, the Alliance would morally collapse in terms of trust; therefore, some NATO members have previously mentioned that the Baltic States are not protected in the military sense, so there is no need to take the risk and undertake to protect them where the real military danger arises. However any defence of Lithuania would still cause a war between NATO and Russia.

What about the relations of Lithuania and Belarus? Lithuania is implementing the policy of critical dialogue with Belarus. Are there any immediate plans to change this policy and is this policy still effective for Lithuania?

This policy helps Lithuania to be together with high-principled democracies. However Lithuania seems to be a target for wash off those principles and reach certain erosion if among the Member States of the European Union Lithuania started implementing a different policy towards Belarus: that of adaptation and recognition of dictatorship. For Lukashenko that would be an important matter of legitimation, and Putin would get a unique environment for influencing the European Union through Belarus. Unfortunately, those signs are already seen in Lithuania when politicians out of those now at the power make strange steps. Lithuania more and more often stands out of the position of the Member States of the European Union, and those due to whom it is happening try to present their behaviour as positive: here we are – more inventive and flexible. In fact, meanwhile Lithuania is marked as a country finding itself the influence of the East, a country through which Russia already acts trying to break through the frontline of isolation of Belarus (and itself). Belarus could come out of that isolation if it were changing itself but now it wants just like all Russia make the West change without changing itself. Lithuania is the first on this way if it is made to change and adjust to Lukashenko’s dictatorship.

Is that another examination for Lithuania?

Yes, it is an examination for Lithuania, and it seems to me that the current authorities fail to even try to pass that examination for the reason of their internal incentives or perceptions. It is encumbered only by the international situation, possible scorn or disqualification of such a Lithuania. Certainly, both national opposition parties and the democratic oppositional attitude still living in the society would condemn such current authorities if it stood out of the European Union and hugged with Lukashenko.

But maybe, Lithuania would not have to pass such an examination? The examination is to be passed by Belarus itself during the upcoming elections. To what extent is it probable that the elections will be won by democratic forces and is there any possibility in Belarus, let us say, maybe, of the Ukrainian Orange Revolution and of democratisation?

Belarus has political forces which think that this is not totally impossible because, according to them, dissatisfaction with Lukashenko’s regime and himself is already quite high.

But in general, much depends on Russia. If the Belarusian society demonstrates a strong desire to have a democratic state and freedoms, Russia may suppress it. And it is questionable whether this action would be condemned by the West.

If resistance and the outbreak towards democracy were very strong in Belarus, I think no one would stop Lukashenko from using armed forces. To what extent the western countries would evaluate Russia’s responsibility for that is another question.  Until now the West is unwilling to understand that it is Russia who is responsible for Belarus’ affairs.

So there are really many guesses and possible ways. A totally new stage called the third collapse of Russia may come some time. In such a case the countries suppressed and dominating would again acquire momentum for independent actions. The scenario would be exactly the same as the one followed during the collapse of the tsar Russia or the Soviet Union: those who could slipped away. Who has remained awaits another collapse.

This will happen some time. I have no doubt that the third collapse of Russia will come.

Copyright: it is obligatory to indicate www.geopolitika.lt as a source in reprinting or otherwise using www.geopolitika.lt material.

   Print version
  Article has no comments

Enter code:  

Use of juvenile, nonsensical and vulgar language prohibited.

Ukraine has filed a lawsuit against Russia in the International Court of Justice for terrorism and racism (69)

2017 01 19

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine filed a lawsuit in the UN International Court of Justice against Russia within the framework of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, says the site of the Foreign Minister. This is done on the instructions of the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, issued on 16 January.

National Armed Forces (NAF) of Latvia will deploy additional military units in three cities (86)

2017 01 18

For effective complex defence of Latvia, the establishment of a permanent division of the National Armed Forces has started in Latgale, reported the official website of the Ministry of Defence.


In Lithuania the amount of 110 thousand Euros was collected at a concert in support of the ATO fighters and residents of Donbass (40)

2017 01 17

On 13 January a concert "Together to the victory" was held in Lithuania, where the audience decided to support Ukraine's defence and donated 110 thousand Euros.


Belarus has established a visa-free regime for citizens of 80 countries (2)

2017 01 10

Alexander Lukashenko on 9 January signed a decree № 8 "On the establishment of visa-free entry and exit of foreign nationals." The document establishes visa-free entry to Belarus for a period not exceeding 5 days at the entrance through the checkpoint "National Airport Minsk" for citizens of 80 countries, - reported the press service of the President of Belarus.

The European Parliament approved the recall of visas for citizens of Ukraine and Georgia (3)

2016 12 19


The European Parliament approved the granting of a visa-free regime for short-term trips to the citizens of Ukraine and Georgia, RIA Novosti reported.



Copyright: it is obligatory to indicate www.geopolitika.lt as a source in reprinting or otherwise using www.geopolitika.lt material!

© 2005-2017 Geopolitiniø Studijø Centras