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Lithuania's opposition parties see Russia as no threat

Algirdas Butkevičius
Irmanto Gelūno / 15min nuotr. / Algirdas Butkevičius
Šaltinis: BNS

Russia does not pose a threat to Lithuania, Viktor Uspaskich and Algirdas Butkevičius, leaders of the Social Democrats and the Labor Party, said during foreign policy debates on Sunday.

Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, leader of the ruling Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats (conservatives), stated Lithuania should not close its eyes to Russia's efforts to step up military presence in the western direction, while leader of the Liberal Movement Eligijus Masiulis warned about Moscow's information propaganda.

"I see no threats for Lithuania so far; however, the relations between Lithuania and Russia have been estranged. I believe we lack cooperation on the political level," Butkevičius said at live political debates organized by BNS news agency and Lietuvos Ryto Television.

His party fellow, Ambassador to Estonia Juozas Bernatonis, said the Social Democrats would want a "reload" in the relations with Russia, urging Lithuania to "view Russia with more good will."

"To give a direct answer to your question about the threats constituted by Russia, I see none today. A lot of mistakes were made in our relations, and the mistakes cost a lot," Viktor Uspaskich of the Labor Party said.

"Russia needs nothing from Lithuania. They have enough territory already," he said.

The Labor Party's leader was skeptical about the demands for compensation of occupation damages: "When we talk today about compensation of occupation damages, we could make a more efficient recovery over 22 years of pragmatic improvement of relations."

Valentinas Mazuronis, vice-chairman of the Order and Justice party, said Lithuania sometimes criticized Russia without a valid reason.

"When communicating with them (Russia), we should defend our values that are very important for us; on the other hand, we should talk and seek joint decisions. Now we sometimes start kicking buttocks of our neighbors, including Russia, over minor things, over a flying mosquito, and we ask them about the reasons behind their anger, this is not wise," Mazuronis said.

Leaders of the conservatives liberals said Lithuania could diminish Russia's influence by implementing energy independence projects, which would also contribute to better mutual ties.

Kubilius, the prime minister, said both countries were addressing relevant issues in two-country task forces and commissions, but Lithuania can't close its eyes to Russia's modernization and enhancement of armed forces at Lithuania's borders.

"We should not forget that Russia has more than just practical interests, it has a number of geopolitical and geostrategic interests. We cannot fail to see that Russia is markedly modernizing and concentrating its army on its western border. We cannot refrain from raising these matters," he added.

According to the prime minister, Russia will only become a European country after giving a proper assessment of its history. He said Lithuania and all of the European Union (EU) could help Russia in that.

"Let us and the EU help Russia overcome certain historical complexes, psychological complexes or post-imperial complexes. Let's help Russia evaluate its history. Russia may do that to become a European country. It will take time but we'll be patient," he said.

The Liberal Movement's leader Masiulis, the transport and communications minister, said Lithuania should step up its media to rebut Russian propaganda.

"In terms of information propaganda, we should understand that a number of Russian capital-related media outlets are already here or are pushing to be here. We should step up our national broadcaster, our Lithuanian media, our citizens and provide them with a higher degree of immunity," Masiulis said.

In his words, Lithuanians should be "pragmatic in economics and strong and dignified in politics." The minister emphasized that Lithuania's ties with Russia were good in the transport area he was in charge of.

Naujienų agentūros BNS informaciją atgaminti visuomenės informavimo priemonėse bei interneto tinklalapiuose be raštiško UAB „BNS“ sutikimo draudžiama.
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