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Lithuania
 
  Lithuania in the network of echoes

Arűnas Skrudupas
2007 05 03

Globalization adds a new qualitative dimension to the process of international and national foreign policy. The majority of trans-national events depend on the policy of key „players“, however, such a small country as Lithuania might also become, for a certain period of time, the center of events. For small countries quite often the process of globalization is an external factor for formation of foreign policy, and in this respect it limits political choices.

***

On the other hand, globalization process activates the Lithuanian foreign policy. Being dependent on other countries, Lithuania seeks to make independence reciprocal. Being unable to do this at global level, Lithuania pursues formative rather then responding foreign policy. Mitigation of negative consequences of globalization and taking the advantage of its virtues are pursued via development of trans-national and especially neighborhood cooperation: integration to the EU structures, strategic partnership between Lithuania and Poland, cooperation of the Baltic States, strengthening of solidarity between the Baltic States and Northern Regions etc. Factors strengthening impact of the Lithuanian foreign policy can at the same time restrict this policy  (for instance, the EU), however, co-operation systems, as well as tendency of regionalization in general, might also become a stimulus for globalization.

The restricted impact of this processes means that globalization affects factors of formation of foreign policy – first of all the sphere of culture and values. This impact might be even referred to as transforming. A key instrument for control of the globalization process is strengthening of civil society as part of the national security policy, since impact of globalization on the state is mostly expressed via its impact on society.

***

The recent monograph Geopolitical Features of the Baltic States. 20th Century, written by the Lithuanian political scientists Č.Laurinavičius, E.Motieka and N.Statkus, clearly defines the key threat to Lithuania. Due to a possible split between the United States and Europe, Lithuania might become a province of Russia, or, at best, of Europe.  International policy is nothing but constant consideration of problems and process of coordination of changing interests, needs and challenges. Although the main long-term goals of the Lithuanian foreign policy have already been achieved (membership in the EU and NATO), today we are facing both, new threats and new opportunities. One of the opportunities for Lithuania is to adapt its strategy to global transforming powers. However, if there is no possibility to use the impact of these powers, it is necessary to mitigate their negative impact.

A good example of a successful response to global events is Lithuania‘s contribution to the war with terrorism, which has strengthened its diplomatic positions. Terrorism influences the Lithuanian foreign policy and, at the same time, provides for a possibility for Lithuania to influence events. The Lithuanian Eastern policy, based on the principles of „export“ of democracy, facilitates its response to such events as cultural cosmopolitanism and cultural homogenization. It is quite difficult, however, necessary to use the Western civilization space and, at the same time, not disappear in this space. Its perception depends on many factors, such as social harmony, balanced development of economy and economic opportunities provided by globalization (first of all at the EU level).

***

In terms of globalization it is important to highlight not only foreign, but the internal policy of Lithuania as well. Here the role of political elite is instrumental, since it must find common language and establish mutual understanding. It could become the centre of society and help its members to cope with the constantly changing environment. Political parties, public authorities should more rely on recommendations of specialists and experts and should have a vision of internal policy of Lithuania. People want to change their lives, however they lack self-confidence. The so called mentality I cannot change anything can and should be changed, and members of the society must know that they can defend their rights.  Then the desire to neutralize key geopolitical threats to Lithuania could become more realistic.

***

In terms of integration of emigrants into the political and public life of Lithuania, a concept of „global Lithuania“ has been introduced by highlighting the involvement of the Lithuanians, residing outside the country, in the events of the country. Although our country is small, it is time to have a different vision of Lithuania in our minds, i.e. Lithuania, capable of influencing power centers „floating“ in the global society. We have to answer two questions: what is the weight (standing) of „the Lithuanian capital“ in international non-governmental organizations or media? What is Lithuania‘s impact on informal international structures or how could this impact be developed? Moreover, it is instrumental to further develop the strategy of forming the image of Lithuania.

Discussions on the above are  necessary. As society, we have to determine, again and again, who we are, what our identity is and what our values, which might be affected by globalization, are.

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