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Baltic politicians are beginning to change their attitude towards Russian

Baltic politicians are beginning to change their attitude towards Russian

17.01.2018
Tags: Lithuania, Estonia, Baltic States, Politics, Russia, Analytics, International relations

In the Baltic, the wind of change blew. The leadership of Lithuania, which previously occupied an essentially anti-Russian position, speaks of the desire to establish an official communication with Moscow. And the president of Estonia wants to move to a discriminated Russian-speaking community, so that she does not feel like a stranger. The nationalists of both countries are in hysterics.

Lithuania is often called the most anti-Russian country in the European Union. The assessment is, of course, conditional - there are no clear criteria here, and Vilnius is seriously inferior to the no less anti-Russian Warsaw by its degree of influence. However, according to the rigidity of the statements and the denial of the entire Russian Lithuania, perhaps, it is really possible to award the first place in the informal contest of Russophobes. And not least, it is the merit of its current president, Dalí Grybauskaitė.

Therefore, on the eve of the New Year, Grybauskaite surprised many, saying that with Russia "it is better to cooperate, to trade than to fight": "I would not want to give up or say that there is no need to communicate. Everything changes. The geopolitical situation is changing, it is always necessary to remain willing to be open to change and, if necessary, to change one's position without giving up values. "

However, in order to resume cooperation and communication, Moscow was immediately exposed to a number of conditions ("the liberation of the occupied territories", "the cessation of attempts to bribe foreign politicians", the refusal to "interfere in elections in other countries" and "the desire to impose oneself by force" but by the standards of the President of Lithuania this is indeed a conciliatory statement. "We are always ready to cooperate with all our neighbors, which you do not choose. Because cooperation contributes to the security of our state and the interests of our people, "Grybauskaite summarized.

"We are not Russophobes"

Perhaps these words worked like a trigger. Soon after the restoration of relations with Moscow, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis also spoke. "We are a unique EU state without any, I emphasize, absolutely any contacts with this country (Russia - VIEW). Although other countries, the same neighboring states are actively working (with Russians - VZGLYAD) over economic issues, "he said, speaking on national television. Therefore, according to the prime minister, the issue of relations with Russia should be approached more pragmatically, adhering to the "clear strategic borders" established in Lithuanian foreign policy.

"Contacts with neighboring states must be restored, and the New Year is favorable for such steps," the prime minister summed up.

And although Skvernelis also announced a number of reservations (for example, that "you can not betray Ukraine"), his words caused a scandal. Thus, the head of the country's foreign ministry (that is, the direct subordinate to the prime minister) Linas Linkevičius stated that no contacts at the highest level between Vilnius and Moscow are currently possible, demanding not only the return of the Crimea to Ukraine, but also the "return to Georgia of lost territories" . After that, according to Linkevičius, "Russia's refusal to pursue an aggressive policy towards its neighbors, stop Moscow's interference in the internal affairs of European states, and the rejection of imperial plans for resuscitation of the USSR should follow." And only "if the Kremlin observes these conditions, there will be grounds for the restoration of the dialogue at the highest level."

We must give credit to Skvernelis - to the skepticism of his subordinate he reacted harshly. "The foreign minister sometimes thinks that he is not a member of the government. But the minister is a member of the government, "the prime minister said in an interview with one of the radio stations, after which he announced the need to resume the work of the Lithuanian-Russian intergovernmental commission. In his opinion, Lithuania needs a "living dialogue of professionals" in the field of trade, energy, transport, agriculture and so on. And the absence of contacts at the level of ministers or their deputies, he called an unhealthy phenomenon, which "harms the interests of states and peoples".

"We are not Russophobes. Dialogue with Russia should be carried out, "Skvernyalis said, separately singling out the embargo on agricultural products declared by Russia, which harms Lithuania's interests.

However, Linkevičius also did not give up on his opinion. "We really do not see the point in high-level political meetings right now. Moreover, they can not solve anything extra, except politicization of the situation, "the minister said on the air of the same radio station. And why do we need official contacts if cooperation between the residents of the two countries even grows in some areas:

"Last year, almost 30% increased our exports to Russia, despite the not very intense relationship and mutual sanctions. And tourist flows have grown, visa centers are working actively, several important agreements have been signed. Here I would single out the work on demarcation of the border with Russia, completed at the end of last year. This is a huge work, it lasted 12 years - and quietly quietly the result is achieved. Practically, we have completed negotiations on real estate in diplomatic terms, border and other projects will continue. Of course, these relationships can not be intensified, but those cases that should be, the necessary contacts take place, "the minister argues.

"Presidential ambitions oblige"

As we see, there is no unanimity about the need to resume official contacts with Russia from the Lithuanian authorities. But what explains the peacekeeping initiatives of the same Skvernelis? Political scientist, deputy editor-in-chief of RuBaltic.ru portal Andrey Starikov, in an interview with the newspaper VZGLYAD urged not to forget that Skvernelis is called the main contender for victory in the forthcoming presidential election in 2019.

"Saulius Skvernelis is the most likely substitute for Dalia Grybauskaite as head of state, and he tests the contours of the future electoral platform. He believes that the coming pre-election year is favorable for the restoration of political contacts with Russia. Non-political ties between Lithuania and Russia are indeed improving, and the logical reinforcement of certain non-political successes should be the intensification of political contacts. The demand for establishing relations with the eastern neighbor in Lithuanian society is ", says Starikov, who believes that Skvernelis intends to meet this demand and" offer an alternative to the ideological monopoly of President Grybauskaite and the Lithuanian conservatives - at least at the level of political slogans. "

"There will be more and more applications for the eastern neighbor. He was a fugitive from the Interior Ministry system, inexperienced in foreign affairs and had previously not been particularly concerned with international issues. However, presidential ambitions are binding, "says Starikov.

But how conditional is the pro-Russian intentions of the Lithuanian prime minister able to be realized in the event of his election as president? In this part of the question, Starikov is pessimistic: "Now castling is most likely to happen, when Grybauskaite goes to the post of prime minister, yielding to Skvernyalis the presidential palace on the Daukanto Square. In this case, detente with Russia will not happen: Grybauskaite and her entourage have long ago burned all the bridges. And while these people remain real subjects of Lithuanian politics and holders of its meanings, Moscow and Vilnius have nothing to talk about. "

In defense of the "national state"

A similar story unfolds in another Baltic state - Estonia, whose president - Kersti Kaljulajd - has been severely criticized by the chairman of the right-wing radical Conservative People's Party Marta Helme. He accused the president of breaking traditions, violating the principle of separation of powers and hostile attitude to the idea of ​​a national state.

The sins of Kalyulide are innumerable. It requires the parliament to progress in the work on the applied acts of the "Law on Cohabitation," legalizing the possibility of gay marriages, openly expresses contempt for visiting churches, does not consider Estonia a national state, supports the automatic granting of citizenship to holders of "gray passports" (ie Russian non-citizens ) and considers it normal for the Song Festival to be performed in Russian.

"I appeal to you with a persistent request. Every time you are in a hurry to once again defend and promote liberal and, perhaps, dear to you personally values, think about the values ​​of our nation. If they forget, read the Constitution, reread it again and again. And stop interfering in current politics, "Helmeh demanded.

A prominent figure in the Russian-speaking community, Andrei Zarenkov, sees in this statement Helme "the hideous snout of swaggered nationalism." According to Zarenkov, he is not a special admirer of the president, but "it's no use treating her with examples of propaganda from the semi-Nazi arsenal."

"Helmu accused the president of supporting the idea of ​​granting Estonian citizenship to" seropassportsmen ", the Russification of the" sacred song for the Estonians "and in the absence of special advantages for citizens who are Estonians of national origin. The beginning of the 2018 year showed that in the year of the centenary of Estonia's independence, some pseudo patriots will compete for someone who will quickly rip each other's right to carry the flag of nationalism. Helme has already declared the main enemy of the country the Russians living in Estonia, and Russia has long become an enemy, and all ties with it are subject to thorough study, and better - a rupture. Psychological terror takes place against the background of the accentuated hospitality to tourists coming from Russia: we say that we like guests, and let the Russians be only guests in Estonia. How many videos, advertisements and other propaganda hints are published in local media on this topic! "- Zarenkov told the newspaper VZGLYAD.

Kersti Kaljulajd really does not consider it necessary to rasshirkivatsja before russophobes, still rather influential in Estonia. For example, she promised that this year she will move for a month and work in the almost completely Russian-speaking Narva. So she wants to show local people that they are full-fledged, and not second-rate, as the nationalists claim, by the inhabitants of the state.

All these events illustrate a landmark situation: pragmatists in the power of Lithuania and Estonia want to settle relations with Russia or at least with local Russians, but face fierce opposition from those representatives of the establishment that are building their political careers on Russophobia.

Ilya Belkin, Latvia
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