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Published: 4 january 2013 12:06

Lithuanian Parliament Speaker: Lithuania must be friends with Russia as United States is too far to provide gas

Seimo pirmininkas Vydas Gedvilas
Alfredo Pliadžio nuotr. / Speaker of Parliament Vydas Gedvilas

Speaker of the Seimas, Vydas Gedvilas, says Lithuania needs to improve its relations with Russia and "take care of our own people", adding that America is very far and Lithuania will not get any gas from there.

"We have to think about our own people as America is far way from us. We need to take care of our own people. We have very close economic relations with Russia. We buy gas, a lot of gas, and electricity, and oil. This cooperation gives us a lot. We're not going to get gas from America," Gedvilas told the Svoboda radio station when asked to comment on a recent statement by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the United States would resist Russia's plans to create another Soviet Union under the guise of Russia's economic integration.

"We are not the only ones who talk about bilateral relations with Russia. Finland, Poland, and Germany also make a lot of contracts. We also have to solve our problems. So it seems one way from a long distance, and it’s a different view from here when we are neighbors," the speaker said.

Gedvilas believes democratic processes are Russia's own business, and economic and cultural relations need to be improved.

"If we have a good business, then it will be better for the Lithuanians," he said.

Asked whether his opinion about relations with Russia matched that of President Dalia Grybauskaitė, he said: "We were elected. We went to our polling districts and talked to people about cheaper electricity. An ordinary person's feelings are determined by what he has in his pockets, whether his life is good or bad. And the majority of people lead not very good lives."

"I wouldn’t want to single out Russia alone. Belarus, Poland, and the Scandinavian countries are also our neighbors. We need to solve economic problems with everyone, we need to be friends with everyone, make use of neighbors in the good sense and not to close ourselves and refuse to communicate. The main problem always is that we do not talk and do not solve those problems and do not try as if someone else has to do it. We have to solve our problems ourselves. We are looking for points of contact to start talks," the speaker said.

According to Gedvilas, Russian capital is invested across Europe and Lithuania is not a "buffer" state in this respect.

"Russia has influential people everywhere, they have powerful resources and they are big businessmen who have big capital. They do a lot of investment into real estate here and other projects but it's a natural thing. It happens in the entire world. The whole Europe and Lithuania is not some "buffer" zone. They use their capital for business in Greece, and Cyprus, and Spain," Gedvilas said.

He believes relations with Belarus also need a reset.

"We need to reset relations, that's for sure, since they are closest neighbors. Of course, there are democratic, human rights issues with Belarus we need to deal with. But economic, cultural, sports, and business relations need to be improved. As the way our people in Lithuania will live will depend on these relations," the speaker said.

"And the same is true of Russia. They are very close neighbors and we need to talk to them as well," he said.

In response to a comment that, for example, Russia's relations with NATO are not "very cheerful", Gedvilas said: "Of course, but we need to separate these things. We are a member of NATO and have to make common decisions. We should not mix these things. NATO is NATO."

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