Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Discussed Russian Foreign Policy
​Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius.

​Linas Linkevičius has made a long career in international politics: in 2005–2011 he acted as the Permanent Representative of Lithuania in NATO and has also acted twice as the Lithuanian Minister of National Defence, in 1993–1996 and 2000–2004.

Linkevičius is known especially for his criticism towards Russia and Putin. A majority of the lecture focusing on the security questions of the Baltic Sea was about Russia and its foreign policy. The Minister was convivial during his lecture and seemed to acknowledge his reputation:

– I may be a Kremlin phobic but not a Russia phobic, I actually have many Russian friends, joked Linkevičius in the beginning.

When Linkevičius criticises Russia, he does not criticise its people or culture, only the power elite which at the moment is strongly personified in President Vladimir Putin.

Hybrid Threat One of Europe's Stress Tests

According to Linkevičius, Europe is currently in turmoil. He points out the situation in Catalonia, Brexit and the Russian hybrid war as Europe's stress tests.

– Hybrid threats are part of today, and EU and Nato should increase their collaboration in order to prevent asymmetric threats.

According to Linkevičius, Europe is short of strong leadership at the moment. He does not refer to the idea of an individual strong leader as such, but instead on sustainable democratic government.

– Why are people taking power? Why can radical groups rise to power? Weak democracy and political power vacuum create space for popular uprisings.

Value-based Politics at the Crossroads?

According to Linkevičius, it is important to talk about Russia, as it is part of Europe and it has been continuously aggressive towards its neighbouring countries. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania covered details related to the occupation of Georgia and the Crimea and told that he is concerned about the fate of Transnistria, a self-proclaimed state that declared independence from Moldova. Transnistria has an over 30% Russian minority.

– Russia is building its internal unity on foreign-policy conflicts and nationalism. Russians are proud that they as a nation have again become a significant player in international politics. They have a seat at the big table again, described Linkevičius during the lecture.

Linkevičius finds that Russia should be isolated from the international community and substantial sanctions should be imposed against it, in order to stop it flexing its muscles in the stage of world politics.

– European politics is at the crossroads. If we want our politics to reflect our values, we should also be able to defend those values.

At the end of his lecture, Linkevičius also commented on the NATO membership of Lithuania, but emphasised that he did not wish to comment on Finland's situation.

– We can guarantee a defence for the people, but not safety. It is good that people feel safe, but I think we should be part of something bigger. Only with international co-operation, can we defend our common values and freedom.
 
Text: Heikki Kettunen
Translation: Saara Yli-Kauhaluoma

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Published date 10/27/2017 4:15 PM ,  Modified date 10/27/2017 4:19 PM

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