From the Editor

The second half of 2013 was the most intense period for Lithuanian diplomats and almost all civil servants since the country’s accession to the European Union (EU) in 2004. Lithuania has assumed the EU Council Presidency for the first time.

Despite some nervous anticipation, Lithuania’s efforts and competence to chair meetings of the Council of Ministers of the EU, organise big conferences and other events, and facilitate in searching for compromises among all EU members were recognised by many EU leaders and high-ranking officials even before the end of the presidency. One of the biggest challenges for the Lithuanian Presidency was negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 (the EU’s budget, to put it more simply). The approval of the multiannual EU budget was one of the most important priorities for the Lithuanian Presidency. The EU Council and the European Parliament in Brussels on 11 November 2013 have agreed on the EU budget for 2014 after the negotiations guided by the Lithuanian Presidency. After discussions, the European Parliament on 19 November 2013 gave its consent to the EU multiannual financial framework and paved the way for a smooth start to the new seven-year financial framework’s programmes. This final compromise was evaluated as a big success for the Lithuanian Presidency.

Another big challenge was related to the summit of the EU Eastern Partnership countries. The main question was, Can Ukraine and the EU reach a deal on signing the Association Agreement (including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area Agreement) in Vilnius? As the meeting of the EU Eastern Partnership Summit drew closer, the issue of the importance of the Eastern Partnership suddenly found itself in the spotlight. This happened not because of the activeness of the EU or the Eastern Partnership programme countries, but mainly because of Russia’s actions. Russia’s oversensitivity to this programme forced the country into taking inadequate actions. Russia is seeking actively to include the Eastern Partnership programme’s countries into the Customs Union and, perhaps, Eurasia. Russia’s attempts at foiling Ukraine’s signing of the Association Agreement with the EU at all costs blatantly confirms that Kiev’s geopolitical choice is a matter of life and death to the Kremlin. Russia’s tough pressure on Ukraine (chocolate wars; threats to change tariffs), the blockade of Moldovan wine, the hindrance of Lithuanian carriers at Russian customs offices, and the halt of dairy imports, created a reaction that became a wake-up call of sorts. The current tension between Russia, Ukraine and the EU has dramatically increased the importance of the Vilnius Summit.

Not accidentally, this issue of the Lithuanian Foreign Policy Review is very much about Ukraine, Russia and EU–Russian relationships. The geopolitical shift of Ukraine towards the EU and its break-up with Russia might be regarded as a historical change comparable to the break-up of the Soviet Union or EU expansion. However, this challenge cannot be completed due to one summit, in spite of its importance. Ukraine still faces a lot of overlapping political, economic and identification issues.

The article To What Extent has Russia‘s Foreign Policy since 2000 been influenced by Eurasianism? by Marijuš Antonovič contributes to the debate about whether Russia’s recent assertiveness is related to the prominence of Eurasianist ideas. The author outlines the main theories of Eurasianism, which are termed pragmatic Eurasianism, intercivilisational Eurasianism and neo-Eurasianism, and reviews Russia’s foreign policy towards the USA, the EU, China, Japan, the CIS and Iran. The author also analyses how much Russia’s foreign policy matched Eurasianist ideas and what relationship can be seen between Russia’s foreign policy and the theories of Eurasianism. Antonovič comes to the conclusion that although Russia’s foreign policy was not completely guided by any theory of Eurasianism, Russia was still strongly influenced by pragmatic Eurasianism and adopted many practical proposals from neo-Eurasianism.

Ukrainian scholar Iuliia Tsyrfa contributes with an article The Formation of the European Identity of Ukraine: Key Factors and Principles. The article analyses the main determinants of the formation of the European identity of Ukraine. Using the historical background of the Ukrainian statehood, the author focuses on European cultural and political components inherent to the Ukrainian mentality. It is stated that Ukrainian regionalism does not separate the population into groups with different mentalities, but contributes to the realisation of their specific features. As the author states, the long absence of statehood caused the detraction of importance of certain Ukrainian mental traits, which is why it is only nowadays that the Ukrainian population can be considered to be a conscious nation. This article focuses on the main features that unite Ukrainian people with Europeans: individualism, constitutionalism, democratism, etc. It also analyses the geographical component of Ukraine’s identity and the current trends in the formation of the latter. The author concludes that the formation of the European identity of Ukraine is possible only through the perception of Ukraine as a part of Europe by the European nations.

In the article Securitization of the Energy Sectors in Estonia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine: Motives and Extraordinary Measures, Tomas Janeliūnas and Agnija Tumkevič provide a comparative analysis of how the securitization of an energy sector is related to the actual energy situation of a country, the intensity of the securitization proclamation, and the “practical outcomes” of the securitization process. The authors explore the energy strategies and implementation processes of “untypical” energy projects in four Central and Eastern European countries. The analysis of the securitization of the energy sectors in Estonia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine has served as a basis for introducing the concept of a “securitization intensity” in the energy-security sector. The article also contributes to the debate about the “explanatory role” of securitization theory by suggesting that the actual level of energy dependence (on an external supply) relates to the level of securitization intensity but not necessarily to the extraordinary measures or practical outcomes in the form of untypical projects in energy sectors.

Another scholar from Ukraine, Andrew Wawryniuk, contributes with a historical review of the outbreak of the Second World War and its consequences for Poland and Lithuania. His article, Attempts to Change the National Affiliation of Lviv and Vilnius in the Context of the 1944 Moscow Conference, provides a review of documents and archive data explaining the issue of the inclusion of Lviv and Vilnius in Polish territory. The author gives a good overview of the then controversies, interests and political games of the Soviet Union that determined post-war borders of Poland.

And finally, Konstantinas Andrijauskas takes a look at China’s growing influence in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. His article, China’s Economic Penetration into Post-Soviet Central Asia and Eastern Europe, analyses recent developments in bilateral trade and China’s investment patterns in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. By focusing on the so-called strategic partnerships established throughout this huge area in the 21st century, the given research deals with Beijing’s trade, investment and economic aid tendencies in order to assess the rate and depth of its influence-projection efforts. The article shows that China’s influence has grown particularly quickly since the outbreak of the global financial crisis, and no longer confines itself to post-Soviet Central Asia. The author argues that China has been actively engaged in a wave of strategic partnership creation across post-Soviet space since 2011. Although China has made advances in post-Soviet Eastern Europe in recent years as well, Central Asia remains its foreignpolicy focus. As the author states, nowhere else do Beijing’s security, energy and economic interests intertwine so much as in Central Asian countries. By gradually becoming the principal trader and investor in this vast area, China has emerged as the leading outside energy player as well.

In the Opinion section we present an inspiring discussion about EU-Russia relations – what the active positions of the EU (and Lithuania) towards Russia should be. Laurynas Kasčiūnas and Linas Kojala, in their opinion EU Policy Towards Russia: Will We Fill the Strategic Vacuum? argue that over the two decades since the end of the Cold War, the EU has lacked ideas to force Russia to behave according to the European rules of the game or to collaborate on key issues of international relations. The EU still tends to identify Russia as a strategic partner, but the content of the partnership has been completely washed out. Authors support the idea of “pause” in EU strategic relations with Russia – this would be needed for the EU to reconsider political and economic leverages that could be used more effectively in relation to Russia. As for the Lithuanian-Russian relationship, Kasčiūnas and Kojala provide arguments that a softer rhetoric is not conducive to real concessions on the Russian side: concessions are based on pressure exerted on Lithuania to abandon its strategic interests. The authors summarise that the main task for Lithuania should be to involve an international factor in relations with Russia because this is the only way to strengthen Lithuania’s negotiating powers. In addition, this formula should be extended to as many areas of Lithuanian-Russian bilateral relationships as possible.

Vytis Jurkonis provides an opinion in EU Foreign Policy towards Belarus – Mixing Chess with Checkers. The author notes that the misperception of EU foreign policy towards Belarus lies not within the dilemma of using the wrong sticks and carrots, but within the general misunderstanding about what the game offers, who the players are and what rules of the game frame the decisions of each side. Jurkonis supports the idea that Brussels needs a diversity of interactions when “playing chess” against Belarus, and that’s what official Minsk cannot deliver.

And the last text is an overview of the Lithuanian Pre-Presidency Conference, held in Vilnius on 4–5 July 2013. This was one of Lithuania’s EU pre-presidency events, initiated by TEPSA, a trans-European research network consisting of research institutes in the field of European affairs throughout Europe. The aim of the conference was to encourage discussion among Lithuanian politicians and policy makers; representatives of EU institutions; European academics and experts on EU policy; diplomats; and representatives of NGOs, business and the media on the matters of the Lithuanian EU Council Presidency.


Editor in Chief
Tomas Janeliūnas

 

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International Forum

CHALLENGES AND OPTIONS FOR THE BALTIC SEA REGION
December 12, 2008,
Vilnius

Selected presentations:

Dr. Mindaugas Jurkynas, Vilnius University, Lithuania

Dr. Marko Lehti, University of Turku, Finland

Dr. Arūnas Molis, Baltic Defence College

Dr. Toms Rostoks, University of Latvia, Latvia

Dr. Kazimierz Musiał, University of Gdansk, Poland




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