Continuous support for the EU ‘open door’ policy

Lithua­nia has always sus­tained an ‘open door’ pol­i­cy regard­ing EU enlarge­ment. Speak­ing about the fur­ther enlarge­ment, Lithuan­ian offi­cials most often con­cen­trate on the EU East­ern neigh­bours. As it is laid down in the pro­gramme of the new gov­ern­ment, Lithua­nia will sup­port the efforts of Ukraine, Moldo­va and the states of South­ern Cau­ca­sus to inte­grate in to the EU.[1] Lithuan­ian For­eign Affairs Min­is­ter, Vygau­das Ušackas, empha­sized that “it is nec­es­sary to keep the EU oblig­a­tions for the coun­tries, aspir­ing mem­ber­ship in the EU. At the same time it is essen­tial to help the EU east­ern neigh­bours to pre­pare for it properly”[2].

There should be no impediments for the further enlargement of the EU

Accord­ing to the Lithuan­ian politi­cians, there should be no imped­i­ments for the EU enlarge­ment, and the Irish ‘No’ should not stop this process. Ear­li­er, for­mer Lithuan­ian Prime Min­is­ter, Ged­im­i­nas Kirk­i­las, said that there is an enlarge­ment fatigue felt some­where in Europe, but he encour­aged not to give up to this polit­i­cal fatigue.[3] The then state sec­re­tary of the Lithuan­ian For­eign Affairs, Min­istry, Deivi­das Mat­ulio­n­is, after the Irish ‘No’ to the Lis­bon Treaty, said that this fact should not become an imped­i­ment for the fur­ther enlarge­ment of the EU.[4] As the for­mer Lithuan­ian For­eign Affairs Min­is­ter, Petras Vaitiekū­nas, claims, “we have to do every­thing to pro­vide a transat­lantic per­spec­tive to our East­ern neigh­bours, so that the Geor­gian sce­nario would not repeat”[5].

Support for enlargement not only among the politicians, but also in the society

In con­cern to the pub­lic opin­ion, the major­i­ty of Lithua­ni­ans also favour fur­ther EU enlarge­ment. As the Lithuan­ian For­eign Affairs Min­is­ter Vygau­das Ušackas claimed to the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion­er for enlarge­ment, Olli Rehn, dif­fer­ent pub­lic opin­ion sur­veys indi­cate that Lithua­ni­ans are among the biggest sup­port­ers of the fur­ther enlarge­ment of the EU.[6] A recent­ly con­duct­ed nation­al pub­lic opin­ion sur­vey demon­strat­ed, that 59 per­cent of Lithua­ni­ans think that the new mem­bers should be allowed to join the Euro­pean Union, while only 13 per­cent of the respon­dents do not agree with this statement.[7]

Lithuania most of all would like to see Ukraine and Georgia in NATO

Lithuan­ian offi­cials also favour an open door pol­i­cy when speak­ing about the NATO enlarge­ment. It is usu­al­ly Ukraine and Geor­gia whose mem­ber­ship in NATO is most active­ly dis­cussed in Lithua­nia. Giv­ing a lec­ture at the “NATO Defense Col­lege in Rome”, the for­mer Lithuan­ian Prime Min­is­ter, Ged­im­i­nas Kirk­i­las, said that Geor­gia and Ukraine deserve a NATO Mem­ber­ship Action Plan.[8] The new gov­ern­ment, formed after the autumn elec­tions to the Lithuan­ian par­lia­ment, declared in its pro­gramme, that Lithua­nia would sup­port Ukrain­ian and Geor­gian efforts to pre­pare to become mem­bers of NATO in a short run.[9]

Strong support for different initiatives to strengthen relations with the EU Eastern neighbours

Lithua­nia sup­ports dif­fer­ent EU ini­tia­tives to fos­ter and strength­en rela­tions with the EU East­ern neigh­bours, and this is one of the most active­ly dis­cussed issues in the Lithuan­ian Euro­pean agen­da. Lithuania’s his­toric expe­ri­ence with the EU East­ern neigh­bours allows Lithua­nia to make a sig­nif­i­cant input in this area of EU policy.

Before the Decem­ber Euro­pean Coun­cil, speak­ing about the East­ern Part­ner­ship, the gov­ern­ment declared that it sup­ports the new ini­tia­tives for strength­en­ing the rela­tions with the EU East­ern neighbours.[10] Lithuan­ian Pres­i­dent Val­das Adamkus sup­pos­es that dur­ing Czech Pres­i­den­cy Lithua­ni­ans should keep on seek­ing the devel­op­ment of the ambi­tious, effi­cient and wide East­ern Partnership.

A stronger European Neighbourhood Policy is necessary after the Georgian conflict

In the pro­gramme of the new gov­ern­ment, it is stat­ed that Lithua­nia will demon­strate ini­tia­tive and will keep on con­duct­ing an active East­ern neigh­bour­hood policy.[11] There is an agree­ment in Lithua­nia that after the Geor­gian con­flict, this pol­i­cy should be strength­ened. As the under­sec­re­tary of the Lithuan­ian For­eign Affairs Min­istry, Žygi­man­tas Pavil­io­n­is, claimed that – after the Geor­gian con­flict a more proac­tive EU pol­i­cy towards its East­ern neigh­bour­hood is necessary.[12] Speak­ing in a meet­ing of the EU For­eign Affairs Min­is­ters, for­mer Lithuan­ian For­eign Affairs Min­is­ter, Petras Vaitiekū­nas, has also empha­sized an imper­a­tive to adopt all the nec­es­sary deci­sions to strength­en the EU rela­tion­ship with Ukraine, Moldo­va, Geor­gia and Belarus. Accord­ing to the min­is­ter, it is essen­tial to con­sid­er seri­ous­ly the per­spec­tive of Ukrain­ian mem­ber­ship in the EU, to give new qual­i­ty to the EU-Mol­da­vian rela­tions, and to reeval­u­ate the rela­tion­ship with Belarus.[13]

Recent­ly adopt­ed “Strate­gic direc­tions of the Lithuan­ian pol­i­cy in the Euro­pean Union for the year 2008–2013”[14], which give a per­spec­tive on the Lithuan­ian Euro­pean pri­or­i­ties in a short run, also pays much atten­tion to the issue of the EU East­ern neigh­bour­hood. It is claimed in this doc­u­ment, approved by the Lithuan­ian gov­ern­ment, that Lithua­nia should con­tin­ue on pay­ing much atten­tion to the EU East­ern neigh­bours – it should aspire to facil­i­tate visa regimes for Geor­gia and Belarus, and should active­ly stim­u­late the EU to find ways to solve frozen con­flicts in Moldo­va and the South­ern Caucasus.[15]

 

 

 

[1] Ibid.
[2] Lithuan­ian For­eign Affairs Min­istry: Lietu­vos užsienio reikalų min­is­tras su Euro­pos Komisi­jos plėtros reikalų gen­er­alin­iu direk­to­ri­u­mi aptarė ES plėtros klausimus (Lithuan­ian For­eign Affairs Min­is­ter has dis­cussed the issues of the EU enlarge­ment with the Gen­er­al Direc­tor of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion for enlarge­ment affairs), press release, 25 Jan­u­ary 2009, http://www.urm.lt/index.php?-1068680572 (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[3] The lec­ture of the Prime Min­is­ter Ged­im­i­nas Kirk­i­las at the “NATO Col­lege of Defense” in Rome: Chal­lenges for the secu­ri­ty of the transat­lantic soci­ety in the 21. cen­tu­ry, 2 Octo­ber 2008, is avail­able at: http://www.lrvk.lt/main.php?id=aktualijos_su_video/p.php&n=6645 (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[4] Lithuan­ian For­eign Affairs Min­istry: Min­is­ter­i­jos val­sty­bės sekre­to­rius su Rumu­ni­jos Par­la­men­to Euro­pos reikalų komite­to nar­i­ais aptarė aktu­al­ius Euro­pos Sąjun­gos klausimus (The Sec­re­tary of the Min­istry has dis­cussed the top­i­cal EU issues with the mem­bers of the Com­mit­tee on Euro­pean Affairs of the Ruman­ian Par­lia­ment), press release, 2 July 2008, avail­able at: http://www.urm.lt/index.php?-605769503 (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[5] See: Nau­jas Šiau­rės ir Balti­jos val­sty­bių vaid­muo, stipri­nant ES Rytų kaimynių transat­lanti­nę inte­graci­ją (New role of the Nordic and Baltic states in strength­en­ing the transat­lantic inte­gra­tion of the EU East­ern neigh­bours), 11 Sep­tem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.euro.lt/lt/naujienos/apie-lietuvos-naryste-europos-sajungoje/naujienos/4137/ (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[6] Lithuan­ian For­eign Affairs Min­istry: Užsienio reikalų min­is­tras susi­tiko su Euro­pos Sąjun­gos plėtros komis­aru (For­eign Affairs Min­is­ter has met the Euro­pean Union Com­mis­sion mem­ber respon­si­ble for enlarge­ment), press release, 27 Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: http://www.urm.lt/index.php?-343207303 (last access: 28 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[7] Lithuan­ian gov­ern­ment: Viešo­sios nuomonės tyri­mas: didži­uo­jamės turė­da­mi val­sty­bę, esame žingei­dūs, kri­tiš­ki ir atviri (Pub­lic opin­ion sur­vey: we are proud to have a state, we are curi­ous and open), press release, 1 July 2008, avail­able at: http://www.lrvk.lt/main.php?id=aktualijos_su_video/p.php&n=6374 (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[8] The lec­ture of the Prime Min­is­ter Ged­im­i­nas Kirk­i­las at the “NATO Col­lege of Defense” in Rome: Chal­lenges for the secu­ri­ty of the transat­lantic soci­ety in the 21. cen­tu­ry, 2 Octo­ber 2008, is avail­able at: http://www.lrvk.lt/main.php?id=aktualijos_su_video/p.php&n=6645 (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[9] See: Vyr­i­ausy­bės pro­gra­ma: užsienio poli­tiko­je siek­ti ES sol­i­daru­mo, part­nerys­tės su JAV, geros kaimynys­tės su Rusi­ja (The pro­gramme of the gov­ern­ment: to seek for the EU sol­i­dar­i­ty, part­ner­ship with the USA and good neigh­bour­hood with Rus­sia in for­eign pol­i­cy), 4 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.euro.lt/lt/naujienos/apie-lietuvos-naryste-europos-sajungoje/naujienos/4775/ (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[10] Lithuan­ian gov­ern­ment: Pre­m­jeras A. Kubil­ius pris­tatys Lietu­vos pozi­ci­jas Euro­pos Vadovų Tary­bo­je (Prime Min­is­ter A. Kubil­ius will present the Lithuan­ian posi­tions in a Euro­pean Coun­cil meet­ing), press release, 11 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.lrvk.lt/main.php?id=aktualijos_su_video/p.php&n=6912 (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[11] See: Vyr­i­ausy­bės pro­gra­ma: užsienio poli­tiko­je siek­ti ES sol­i­daru­mo, part­nerys­tės su JAV, geros kaimynys­tės su Rusi­ja (The pro­gramme of the gov­ern­ment: to seek for the EU sol­i­dar­i­ty, part­ner­ship with the USA and good neigh­bour­hood with Rus­sia in for­eign pol­i­cy), 4 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.euro.lt/lt/naujienos/apie-lietuvos-naryste-europos-sajungoje/naujienos/4775/ (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[12] Lithuan­ian For­eign Affairs Min­istry: Kon­fer­en­ci­jo­je Euro­pos Sąjun­ga rag­i­na­ma vykdyti aktyves­nę poli­tiką Moldovos ir kitų Rytų kaimynių atžvil­giu (In the con­fer­ence Euro­pean Union is stim­u­lat­ed to con­duct a more proac­tive pol­i­cy towards Moldo­va and oth­er East­ern neigh­bours), press release, 17 Octo­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.urm.lt/index.php?417973118 (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[13] Lithuan­ian For­eign Affairs Min­istry: Užsienio reikalų min­is­tras: atėjo laikas pri­imti esminius sprendimus dėl san­tyk­ių su Euro­pos Sąjun­gos Rytų kaimynėmis (For­eign Affairs Min­is­ter: the time has come to make essen­tial deci­sions upon the rela­tion­ships with the EU East­ern neigh­bours), press release, 8 Sep­tem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.urm.lt/index.php?-1315342569 (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[14] See: Lietu­vos “penkmečio planas”: euro­zona, elek­tros tiltai, pažab­o­ta emi­graci­ja ir aukštųjų tech­nologi­jų suk­lestėji­mas (Lithuan­ian “five year” plan: Euro­zone, elec­tric­i­ty inter­con­nec­tions, man­aged emi­gra­tion and the pros­per­i­ty of the high-tech­nolo­gies), 29 Sep­tem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.euro.lt/lt/naujienos/apie-lietuvos-naryste-europos-sajungoje/naujienos/4278/ (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[15] Ibid.