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Published: 7 november 2012 11:34

Lithuanian leaders congratulate Barack Obama on re-election

JAV prezidentas Barackas Obama
„Reuters“/„Scanpix“ nuotr. / US President Barack Obama
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė congratulated Barack Obama on his second victory in the US presidential election. Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius says that while he prefers the conservative Republicans, Obama's administration has done a lot to further US-Lithuanian cooperation.

Grybauskaitė thanked Obama for his personal contribution to the decisions of crucial importance to the Baltic states – the permanent Baltic air-policing mission and participation of US troops, implementation of defense plans reinforcing NATO and key decisions in the development of the missile defense system.

Obama of the Democratic Party was re-elected for the second term on Tuesday, beating Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

US-Lithuanian relations to remain just as strong

Relations between the United States and Lithuania will remain just as strong as they were before the presidential elections, US interim Chargé d'Affairs Anne Hall said following reports about President Barack Obama's re-election.

In her words, the US will proceed with its sanctions against Iran and attempt to include Russia in the policies.

"The foreign policy will not change, he will continue with the rigid sanctions against Iran and will attempt to include Russia in the policy. As to the relations with Lithuania, they will remain just as strong," Hall said in a Lithuanian-language address to journalists in Vilnius on Wednesday morning.

The diplomat also emphasized that the presidential elections focused on US economic and domestic problems, and both candidates – Democrat Obama and Republican Romney – agreed on most foreign policy issues.

"No complaints"

Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius commented that the re-elected US President Barack Obama contributed a lot to improving the geopolitical safety of the region, adding that Lithuania had "no complaints about this president."

Kubilius, a conservative leader, said he was ideologically closer to Republicans, but noted the steps taken by the Obama administration that were important for Lithuania, namely, approval of NATO defense plans for the Baltic states and participation of US Armed Forces in exercises.

"The election results do not make much difference for Lithuania, as – we have to put it very clearly – the Obama administration did a lot over the past four years to provide our region with certain important dimensions in terms of geopolitical safety. I mean NATO defense plans and the participation of US Armed Forces in various international maneuvers," the Lithuanian prime minister told Vilnius journalists on Wednesday morning.

"As a conservative, I am always for the Republicans in my heart, but we have no complaints about this president whatsoever," said Kubilius.

According to Kęstutis Girnius, lecturer at Vilnius University's International Relations and Political Science Institute, it was during Obama's term in the White House that NATO included the Baltic states in all defense plans, therefore, "Lithuania has no reasons be feel as an orphan."

“Obama has been criticized for allegedly turning his back on Eastern Europe, but (his predecessor) George W. Bush was the first to turned his back a little,” Girnius told BNS.

In his opinion, victory of Mitt Romney or Obama would not have made much difference for Lithuania.

“From the American point of view, Western and Eastern Europe is a stable region, and the fears of Russia are bigger in Vilnius than they are in America. America's strategic focus will always be on the Middle East and, now, on Eastern Asia,” Girnius added.

“US foreign policy often follows an autopilot route, and the president interferes in rare instances to take over the control. He will not take over the control over some event in Eastern Europe, as there is no crisis here,” he added.

Political scientist Laurynas Kasčiūnas, foreign policy adviser to conservative Parliamentary Speaker Irena Degutienė, told journalists in comment of the US presidential elections that there would be no evident changes in relations with Lithuania.

“There will be no breakthrough in relations with Lithuania. There would be none in either case. Relations with Russia may be different. It will be interesting to see whether the reset policy continues. I think there will be changes to the vocabulary,” said Kasčiūnas.

“Since I am a rightist, Romney would certainly be a better option from my point of view, since in his foreign policies, Central and Eastern Europe are like a tower one could prop on in the European security system. I find his social agenda on the traditional value matters more acceptable. The Republicans are more sensitive about the geopolitical matters of Central and Eastern Europe but I do not see a breakthrough coming,” he added.

Kasčiūnas recalled positive steps taken by America during Obama's rule.

“The years of the Democrats gave us (…) air-policing (the NATO-sanctioned Baltic air-policing mission), exercises in the Baltic Sea. We cannot view this in the negative light only,” he concluded.

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