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  Lithuania‘s three years in NATO. Unanswered questions

Darius Varanavièius, political scientist, executive editor of the magazine "The State"
2007 04 15

On 29 2004 Lithuania has de jure become a member of NATO and finally received actual security guarantees. However, there will always be politicians talking about too high costs of membership in the Alliance, appealing to unfulfilled former promises of America to protect Lithuania or even expressing their sentiments to Russia.

And this would be quite natural, since when you are part of such a huge structure as NATO, there always exists a probability of drowning in the euphoria of the membership, and actually this was the case with the countries which have become members of the Alliance three years ago.

It is necessary to say that Lithuania, as well as other post-Soviet countries, joined the Alliance during its problematic period which has been lasting until now. It is enough to recall the conflict in Iraq in order to understand that today NATO is not as unanimous as it used to be during the years of the Cold War.  During the ceremony of acceptance of new members in 2004, President of the United States G.Bush highlighted that Central and Eastern European countries were more favorable to America. These words were not accidental, since already then some NATO states were against the initiative of the United States „to tidy things up“ in the world’s hot spots under the veil of the Alliance.

Having in mind the influence of the United States inside NATO, membership for the new states is not only a reward for formerly expressed support to the United States, but also “an advance payment” for their supportive position in the future. On the other hand, skepticism of France towards the United States and the increasing discontent of the EU with military actions and plans of Washington create some political friction in the enlarged EU, where Central and Eastern European states are far from playing the key roles.

Besides, in the near future significant changes are anticipated in the policy of the United States. The presidential elections are approaching and there are no obvious signs ensuring the continuity of the republican line.  The democrats who are promising radical changes in the foreign policy, forecast softening of the international role of the United States, and this would change situation of the new members of NATO in Alliance.

In case if a candidate of democrats wins the elections, the position of the United States would become not so categorical in many aspects. The period of presidency of Bill Clinton might serve as a good example of such a tactics. Then NATO‘s development was not so rapid, and the United States searched for a compromise in the international relations rather than sought to show its will.  Taking into consideration the atmosphere in the Near East, America will certainly have to change its policy, since otherwise the moods of discontent might reach its allies, and some of them have already experienced terror attacks.

In fact the Lithuanian search for security was much more in compliance with the republican position. Today we can be happy of having huge dividends of the support expressed to the administration of G.Bush. However, the situation might change.

Certainly, no one can question the fact of Lithuania‘s membership in NATO, however, we must understand that the Alliance is not only a defensive organization, functioning as a guarantee of security of its members. It is also an intersection of multiple interests, and it is quite difficult to find own place there.

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