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Published: 23 july 2012 13:12

Rimvydas Valatka: What did the President tell our ambassadors? Pauses II

All of Lithuania's ambassadors were summoned to Vilnius for a few days. It is a costly event for the modest Lithuanian budget, so why was it done? So that our ambassadors could hear from the President, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet what it was they were supposed to work towards. To discuss the subtleties of diplomacy. What did the ambassadors hear exactly? What were they told by the President of the Republic of Lithuania?

Dalia Grybauskaitė used the occasion to expound the basics of the four-pause diplomacy. With a perfectly straight face.

We must maintain the cold pause in relations with Belarus, because Lukashenko has put kept president in rain. Another pause with Russia, since Putin also did something to displease her.

Relations with Latvia, too, need a pause, because Latvia, according to the President, “is ruled by the Kremlin and Gazprom.” Nor will she ever go to Poland, since she went there once and was made spend two hours in freezing weather and only treated with a cup of tea. In addition to that, Polish Embassy employees in Vilnius are coordinating actions against her with Russian Embassy employees. So there will be a pause with Poland too.

Lithuania has only four neighbours. Four neighbours – four pauses. With all of them. What other state, bar Putin's Russia, could afford to do that?

Lithuania has only four neighbours. Four neighbours – four pauses. With all of them. What other state, bar Putin's Russia, could afford to do that?

Not a word on our relations with the United States. Not a word on Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant construction. EU debt and existential crisis? Who cares – as long as we smoothly sail through the Council of the European Union presidency. That is how Lithuania's current foreign policy looks like.

The only nations deserving of the President's company are, according to her, Swedes and other Scandinavians. Even though they do call us their little brothers, but being a brother is better than being a peasant – as we are sometimes dubbed by Poles.

Experienced ambassadors left the meeting agape. Something unprecedented in 22 years. They were told to do nothing. Or look for pretexts to carry on with confrontation.

Slander? The President, though touchy as she is, could not have said that because that's simply not what a leader of a democratic country could speak, in principle?

Two or three ambassadors, on separate occasions, confirmed the four-pause policy in roughly the same words. The only difference from previous meetings, they said, was that this year, unlike before, the President did not yell at Egidijus Meilūnas over appalling relations with Poland, but rather spoke in a level and calm tone.

Never mind Belarus. Everyone knows the type of politician that Lukashenko is. We shouldn't have illusions about Putin either – Lithuanian-Russian relations hardly depend on what Lithuania does, even though anyone with a basic grasp of interstate relations will tell you that cockiness is not a way to go. But what pause are we talking about when it comes to our NATO allies, Latvia and Poland? Now that sounds like science fiction.

While Latvia wavers whether to join the nuclear power plant project or not, Lithuania – instead of doing everything in our power to convince Latvians that the power plant will make profit – comes up with an idea to make a pause in bilateral relations. And to add insult to injury, we declare that Latvia is under the Kremlin's and Gazrpom's thumb. How can we even think about building a power plant or doing electricity business with Latvia after that?

The four-pause doctrine raises other questions too. For instance, is it possible that the State Security Department or the Military are spying on Poland's – country that is a NATO member and currently protects Lithuanian airspace – embassy employees and report to the President where and with whom they are having drinks?

It is not the first time that Grybauskaitė speaks about a pause in relations with Poland. But let it be noted that the President was telling ambassadors about freezing our ties with Warsaw at the exact same time as Prime Minister Kubilius was going to meet with PM Tusk and Energy Minister Sekmokas had just returned from Poland, where he'd been trying to persuade Poles to re-join the nuclear project. In other words, the President is demanding to make a pause in relations with Poland just as Warsaw itself is hinting at a thaw.

“It is well worthwhile taking action to return to previous closeness and cordiality in ties between Poland and Lithuania. If we want to renew close relations, we mustn't, first of all, bark at Lithuania, since that has never been the best method,” President Komorowski's adviser Tomasz Nałęcz told the Polish radio before Kubilius' visit.

Even Jerzy Haszczynski, a very critical analyst at the less-than-friendly daily Rzeczpospolita, published a commentary saying that Poland should support Lithuania in its “big battle with Russia for energy, and also political, sovereignty”: “The most important battle is raging over the new nuclear power plant that might become the symbol of Lithuania's sovereignty. In this game, we must support Vilnius.”

In other words, just when nervous and equally personal tone of Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski is being replaced by the voice of reason, the Lithuanian leader instructs our ambassadors to throw it away.

But perhaps it is a good thing that the President is holding a hard line? Perhaps that's what a good president should do – express discontent whenever s/he is offered only a cup of tea during a freeze and does not show love to other presidents unless s/he is shown love first?

“What reasons made you a friend of President Putin? What qualities made you love him?” late Anna Politkovskaya, a decent Russian journalist, asked 11 years ago during a press breakfast with the British Prime Minister in London.

“Loving Mr Putin is the Prime Minister's job,” Tony Blair replied. “What else is there to add,” Politkovskaya later reported. “The cook's job is to make a fish dish. The doctor's job is to cut out an appendix. It is the job of the leader of one state to exhibit love to the leader of another state. Nothing more.”

Since our President is unhappy about Poles occasionally calling us peasants, perhaps we should only add to Politkovskaya's words that a 21-century Lithuanian farmer, who yields 80 centners of crop per hectare, will definitely not be offended if someone calls him or her a peasant. Being compared to a peasant could only offend someone who cannot find his place in a city.

It is better to be peasants with both feet firmly on the ground, exporting grain and meat, than wannabe urban squatters who cannot find their proper place. People constantly complaining about both Lithuania and the neighbouring countries and exporting little more than provincial self-aggrandizement that only disgraces our country.

Temos: 1 Rimvydas Valatka

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