Experts say the results suggest that Lithuanians view neighbors, including Poland, in a more reserved and friendly manner than some public rhetoric might suggest.
According to the survey carried out by RAIT pollster for BNS, 80-90 percent of Lithuanians see Latvia, Estonia, Germany, and the United States as friendly countries, while Poland's rate stands at 57 percent. As to Russia and Belarus, more Lithuanians said they were hostile than friendly.
"Lithuanians see neighbors in a more moderate manner than the common impression is – this means that Lithuanians believe to be surrounded by friends rather than enemies," Kęstutis Girnius, lecturer of Vilnius University's International Relations and Political Science Institute, told BNS.
Lithuanians see the northern neighbor Latvia as the friendliest country – 90 percent of those polled said it was friendly towards Lithuania, including 37 percent who said its policies were friendly and 53 percent said it was rather friendly. Merely 1 percent of respondents referred to Riga policies as hostile, while 5 percent said Latvia's policies were rather hostile.
Some 89 percent of respondents said Germany was friendly towards Lithuania (28 pct friendly, 61 pct rather friendly), while the description friendly was picked by 87 percent of those polled in connection to Estonia (31 pct and 56 pct) and 81 percent in connection to the US (21 pct and 60 pct).
A somewhat deeper split of opinions was observed in responses about Poland – 57 percent said it was friendly and 39 percent described it as hostile, including 14 percent saying that Warsaw's policies were friendly, 43 percent said they was rather friendly, while 7 percent referred to Poland's behavior as hostile and 32 percent said Warsaw's policies seemed rather hostile.
"The majority of people see Poland's policies as friendly. It is rather unexpected, considering the number of recent clashes on the national minority policies. The issues have quietened, this must have had an effect on the responses. It is a positive sign to see people looking at Poland with good will regardless of the earlier conflicts," Girnius said.
Some 14 percent of those polled said Moscow's behavior was friendly and 32 percent said it was rather friendly. One in ten respondents (10 pct) said Russia was hostile towards Lithuania, while another 40 percent picked the answer “rather hostile.”
One in ten respondents (10 pct) said Belarus was friendly and one in three (33 pct) said it was rather friendly. Some 8 percent of respondents described Minsk's policies as hostile and 43 percent said they were rather hostile.
In Girnius' words, the critical view of Belarus could have something to do with the teddy-bear incident and the subsequent threats by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to Lithuania.
In the survey, RAIT interviewed 1,018 residents of Lithuania between 15 and 74 years. The surveying was carried out between 10 and 23 August.