Books on Lithuania
Update No: 310 - (26/10/06)
New spat with Moscow
Lithuania's relations with Russia are tense at the moment, not for the first
time. The Russians are irritated that the Lithuanians are no longer under their
heel. It means they have to cross an independent country to reach Kaliningrad,
now an enclave between Lithuania and Poland.
To make things worse Vilnius is backing Georgia in its current dispute with
Moscow. Russia is throwing its weight around in the Caucasus and on the Baltic
shore, as of old. Both Georgia and Lithuania are resisting attempts to bring
them into a subservience to Gazprom and Russian oil majors.
Of course the Russians spy on the Lithuanians all the time. Lithuanian President
Valdas Adamkus and Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas have made
comments referring to the expulsion of a Russian diplomat for spying in early
October. Adamkus stated that 'the spy was caught, and according to the rules, he
was expelled... Don't be surprised if Russia expels a Lithuanian diplomat from
Moscow without any reason.' He added: "It's not the first case, and it
won't be the last."
In a phone interview with Reuters Kirkilas pointed out that 'I believe the
diplomat was asked to leave ... I hope the Russians understand that this step is
not intended to worsen relations.'
Earlier it was reported by the Baltic News Service that the spy had been a
high-ranking diplomat who had attempted to 'influence Lithuania's determination
to support Georgia in its conflict with Moscow.'
Lithuania pulls the Russian bear's whiskers
In the first days of the Georgian-Russian conflict, only the right-wing
Lithuanian politicians voiced support of President Mikhail Saakashvili's action
in arresting four Russians as spies. For example, the head of the rightist Union
of Fatherland Andrius Kubilius called on Lithuanian politicians to express
solidarity with Georgia and to take "concrete action" in the context
of her conflict with Russia.
But as the crisis worsened, with Moscow banning trade with Georgia and taking
other measures, most high-ranking Lithuanian officials one after another made
statements of open support of Tbilisi and implied condemnation of Russia's
conduct. Moreover, it was precisely Adamkus who initiated a "support phone
call" to Saakashvili from Lvov where the Lithuanian, Polish, and Ukrainian
presidents were meeting.
The presidents of the three nations gathered September 30th in Lvov to celebrate
the 750th anniversary of the "capital of the Western Ukraine."Adamkus,
however, had there the idea to call the Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili
on behalf of the troika and thereby express support of his confrontation of
Russia at a time when neither the US nor the main EU countries had voiced any
direct support at the top level.
Presidents of Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine Valdas Adamkus, Lech Kaczynski, and
Viktor Yushchenko voiced support of Georgia in its conflict with Russia. By
doing that, a commentator upholds, the three states wanted to demonstrate a
common position on the issue and, at the same time, draw the attention of the
world community to the situation.
As The Guardian commented on the events, such "moral support" is of
vital importance to Tbilisi. The geopolitical portal in Lithuania remarks on the
phrasing: "For M. Saakashvili it sounds as a call to take even more active
efforts to enter NATO, which is supposed to become an umbrella offering
protection from Moscow's expansion in the region. A different, although maybe a
rhetorical question is, did Vilnius need to 'pull the bear's whiskers?'"
Polish-Lithuanian agreement to hook up power grids
Lithuania and Poland on September 29th formally agreed to build a strategic
"energy bridge" hooking up the electrical power grids of both
countries for between 300 and 400 million Euro, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa)
Polish President, Lech Kaczynski, and visiting Lithuanian President, Valdas
Adamkus, signed a joint declaration on the project in Warsaw. Striving to ease
its heavy reliance on Russian energy supplies, the Baltic state of Lithuania has
been seeking the link with Poland for years. It has also proposed that Poland
become a partner in building a third reactor at Lithuania's Soviet-era Ignalina
nuclear power station. Fellow Baltic states Estonia and Latvia, also keen to
diversify energy suppliers and ease energy reliance on Russia, have expressed
interest in the project. Lithuania also recently concluded agreements to hook up
to the Swedish electrical power grid with a cable under the Baltic Sea. It is
considering a similar link with Finland. As a sign of more fusion between the
Polish and Lithuanian energy sectors, Poland's major PKN Orlen oil refiner is
also in the process of buying-out Mazeikiu Nafta, Lithuania's only oil refiner.