By Leonidas DonskisCuriously enough, the independence of Lithuania, proclaimed and regained on March 11, 1990, was inseparable from the country’s long fight for the right to close down the Ignalina nuclear power plant. After the Chernobyl tragedy, there was little, if any, trust in the ability of the then collapsing Soviet Union to meet Western European standards of technological credibility, not to mention the resulting human safety and energy security. (Read more...)
By Leonidas DonskisTomas Venclova is regarded as one of the most accomplished and noted Lithuanian humanists in the world, and rightly so. An eminent Lithuanian poet, literary scholar and translator, Venclova had long acted as a conscious and dedicated dissident opposed to the entire project of the former Soviet Union, with its crimes against humanity, severe human rights violations, brutal suppression of all fundamental rights and civil liberties, and violent politics. (Read more...)
By Leonidas DonskisWhat is the relationship between Lithuania and the other two Baltic nations? It differs from Latvia and Estonia in more than one way. No matter how rich in historically formed religious communities and minorities it is, Catholic Lithuania, due to its historic liaisons with Poland and other Central and East European nations, is much more of an East-Central European nation than Lutheran Latvia and Estonia. Therefore, it would be quite misleading to assume seemingly identical paths by the Baltic States to their role and place in modern history. (Read more...)
By Leonidas DonskisWhat is the relationship between the Baltic States and Israel? Obviously, it is different from that between Old Europe and Israel. There is hardly anything surprising in that. Israel has become an inescapable part of anti-American discourse, due to its perception in the world as a staunch friend and ally of the United States, even if it goes at the expense of good relations with Europe. The U.S. and Israel have become part of the new hate discourses that legitimized themselves over the past twenty years as politically correct and sensible forms of the fight for the well-being and freedom of the oppressed, dispossessed, or underrepresented peoples. (Read more...)
By Leonidas Donskis
The springtime of our discontent includes not only a profound economic crisis in Greece, which threatens to develop into a chain reaction creating a domino effect and affecting the next stops, namely, Portugal and Spain. Perhaps, for the first time over the past decade, a shadow of uncertainty hangs over the future of the EU.
Let us put aside almost banal temptations to engage in a long debate on whether it was fair to dismiss Lithuania’s candidacy to the eurozone, several years ago, because of what appears now to have been just a miserable and marginal gap between the standard set by the EU and the country’s economic performance. Suffice it to compare this story to the economic performance of Greece, and to the degree of irresponsibility recently shown by its political elite to arrive at the conclusion that the denial of Lithuania’s application on the grounds of its alleged failure to meet the qualifications of the eurozone is the best proof of the EU double standards and unfairness.
In fact, this point is not my wish to add insult to injury; it was discussed recently by my Estonian and Slovenian colleagues in the third largest political group of the European Parliament, ALDE-Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. Whatever the case, this is not the main point that I would like to make here. It is possible that Estonia’s accession to the eurozone is a symbolic victory of the entire Baltic region, worthwhile of praise and celebration.
We have other threats to the stability and solidarity of the EU. The greatest one, in my view, is the misperception of social and political reality. Immediately after the election of Viktor Yanukovych as the new president of Ukraine, we witnessed a deja vu picture of an East European country caught between its past and future. The decisively important country, Ukraine, found itself at a crossroads of its crucial political choices that will determine the future of the entire region, including Russia itself.
This time it is barely that same story of a small unfamiliar country, which is in the middle of nowhere and which evokes merely geographic and historical curiosity of Western Europeans. What is happening in Ukraine now is about a grim backlash and a swift sliding of the huge country, whose relationship to the EU is critical for the independence and well-being of the Baltic States, into the grey zone of Russia’s geopolitical games and manipulations.
By refusing to regard the Holodomor as the genocide of the Ukrainian people and as a crime against humanity, Yanukovych sent a clear signal to Russia that his new interpretation of history is on Russia’s side. In doing so, and also in rewriting history textbooks for Ukrainian high schools, he and his establishment legitimize Russia’s strategic attempt to regain domination and influence over the former republics of the Soviet Union, and to deprive them of their possible leaning towards the EU and NATO. Gas for independence, that is, the stable supply of gas at reasonable prices for the refusal of striving for one’s membership in the EU and NATO, becomes a new devilish stratagem of Putin’s Russia, with an undecipherable role conferred for Medvedev.
The EU did not react to the absorption of a quite large and important country with incredible speed, the country whose joining the EU and NATO may have substantially affected the future of the entire continent. More than that, Ukraine would have substantially strengthened NATO, setting a crucial example for Russia, as if to say that the story of animosity, not to say civilizational rivalry, between Russia, or Eastern Europe, and Western Europe is over.
Yet the EU chose to leave Ukraine to its own devices, not to irritate Gazprom and Russia. Europe betrayed Ukraine in a silent and banal fashion, thus allowing Russia to split the old and the new members of the EU, and to impose on us the logic of bilateral relations with Russia based on “sheer pragmatism.” Who on Earth can now take seriously our regrettable lip service on European solidarity after this knife plunged in the back of Ukraine? If this act of treachery and indifference is not the abandonment of the EU Eastern neighborhood policy, what is it then?
Last but not least, let us take the Mistral deal between France and Russia, eagerly followed by other NATO countries that are desperately trying to sell to Russia as much strategic weaponry as possible. If NATO members can sell the most advanced weaponry to third countries - in this case, to the state which recently held some of NATO’s members occupied and annexed - with such an ease and even without consulting each other, not to mention the slightest reaction to the new existential threats posed to the Baltic States, i.e., partners of that same security system and members of that same club, aren’t we witnessing the beginning of the demise of NATO?
For the first time in its recent history, Russia changed its armament paradigm. Having long been a self-sufficient state on security and armament, Russia started buying strategic armament from Israel and NATO members. It would be unpardonable of us to ignore this fact. Especially for those who know quite well that a failure, or a refusal, to critically assess one’s difficult and criminal past is nothing other than a license to repeat it, albeit in a different form.
Does this all mean that Vladimir Lenin’s famous metaphor of the rope, which the greedy and stupid bourgeoisie of the West, according to him, will unavoidably craft for Soviet Russia only to be hanged by the Bolsheviks in due course, was a prophetic one?
The springtime of our discontent allows us to think about it.
Leonidas Donskis, Ph.D., is a Lithuanian Member of the European Parliament.
© 2010 The Baltic times. All rights reserved.
By Leonidas DonskisThe great Russian humanist, dissident and Human Rights defender Andrei Sakharov, in whose name the supreme EP award in the sphere of the defense of Human Rights was initiated, when asked about what kind of universal ideology could be adopted by humanity in the future, described the universality of Human Rights and our commitment to defend them as the only set of values and ideas capable of bridging the gulfs and reconciling the opposites. (Read more...)
By Leonidas DonskisThe Polish President Lech Kaczynski’s plane crash on April 10, 2010, on the day marking the 70th anniversary of one of the worst war crimes of the twentieth century, in the unholy Katyn, a tragedy that cost Poland no less than the loss of the country’s elite, left quite a rich soil for speculation and conspiracy theories. In contrast with the pragmatic prime minister of Poland, Donald Tusk, the fiercely nationalistic and conservative Lech Kaczynski was intensely hated by the Kremlin. (Read more...)
By Leonidas DonskisDuring a recent conference on human rights and values in Lithuania and in the EU, the question was asked whether our values in Lithuania are the same as those in the EU. This is hardly an irrelevant question keeping in mind what happened in Vilnius on March 11. A group of young people was marching in the city center celebrating the Independence Day of Lithuania with the sinister slogan “Lithuania for Lithuanians.” (Read more...)
By Leonidas DonskisA sinister tendency is increasingly getting stronger in the twenty-first-century world. Politicians are on the way to monopolizing two domains that serve as a new source of inspiration: namely, privacy and history. Birth, death, and sex constitute the new frontiers on the political battlefields. (Read more...)
By Leonidas DonskisWe are witnessing how a sinister tendency is increasingly getting stronger in the U.S. and in Europe. Politicians find themselves preoccupied with two domains that serve as a new source of inspiration, namely: privacy and history. Birth, death and sex constitute the new frontiers on the political battlefields. (Read more...)
There is no evidence that Lithuania`s former foreign minister knew about a secret detention facility operated by the CIA in Lithuania. (Read more...)
By Leonidas Donskis What is the role of the academe in fostering and strengthening the EU? The answer is quite simple: the education of a multilingual, tolerant, curious, and liberally-minded European. (Read more...)
By Leonidas Donskis The year 2009 marks the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Even taking a short look backward, 1989 appears to have been the year that was nothing short of a miracle. (Read more...)
By Leonidas Donskis Norman Cohn (1915-2007), the recently deceased British historian, argued in his book Warrant for Genocide that the Nazis, and the Holocaust they committed, somehow overshadowed some earlier genocidal events and atrocities in Europe that unquestionably were of smaller scale, yet were nearly as sinister and cruel on the ground as those initiated by the Third Reich. (Read more...)
By Leonidas Donskis July 14, 2009 – an historic date that indicates two hundred and twenty years from the beginning of the French Revolution. One would expect a celebration of the date, trying to embrace the new reality of Europe, first and foremost, its unique and historically unprecedented solidarity. One would think that that day marked the reconciliation of Europe, the Old and the New, to use Donald Rumsfeld’s parlance – especially in the light of the election of the Polish MEP Jerzy Buzek, the former prime minister of Poland and one of the heroes of the Solidarity movement, as President of the European Parliament. (Read more...)
By Leonidas Donskis Are the Baltic countries and Ukraine really praising up to the skies their WW2 collaborators of the Nazis or else celebrating their disgraceful pages of the past? This is the question that arises on hearing present Russia’s never-ending insinuations on the Baltic States as failing to adopt the truly European standard in assessing the WW2. In fact, Russia itself detests and furiously condemns any attempt to hold it accountable for the crimes against humanity it committed in the 20th century. (Read more...)