Medvedev signals new era

  • 2009-03-04
  • By Adam Mullett

MI CASA: The Russian Embassy in Vilnius will be instrumental in efforts to thaw out frosty relations between the two countries.

VILNIUS - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has called for a "more energetic impulse," in his country's relations with Lithuania, expressing hope for the constructive development of bilateral ties in the future during the reception of Lithuania's new ambassador.
Antanas Vinkus, the country's fifth ambassador to Russia, was appointed to the post on Feb. 26, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said.

Vinkus noted the intensive cultural cooperation underway between the two countries and suggested invigorating Lithuanian-Russian ties through a new project involving Lithuanian opera soloists and musicians.
Raimundas Lopata, the head of the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University, told The Baltic Times that he sees an uphill battle for Vinkus.

"Well I guess for everybody to serve in Moscow is a hard task 's a lot of things depend on the goodwill of the Kremlin. Of course to expect that someone will make a good deal of change is impossible," he said.
Lopata said cultural performances are a good idea and could help thaw relations between the two countries.
"When such cold relations exist, cultural diplomacy is the best way. But a lot of things depend on the capabilities of the embassy and the capabilities of the ambassador."

"There are talks in Vilnius that we want to have good relations with Moscow, but these things were said at independence. One thing is intentions and one is reality 's these are different," he said.
Doctor of political science and specialist in Russian relations Nerijus Malinkevicius agrees that it might be hard to change things and that it will take time for any meaningful advances to come about.
"Relations with Russia tend to circulate in an interesting fashion. It was Latvia where they suggested changing the tone with Russia and it has already been a year since they started trying to make better relations. Then Poland came, with [Donald] Tusk promoting a better agenda. Lithuania is becoming another player to try to change the tide of negative rhetoric with Russia. This is a difficult task and probably impossible," the political analyst told TBT.

"The basis for trust with Russia is minimal or even negative 's what is really needed is small steps with cultural activities to turn this agenda of mutual discussions to the better. I hope this works, but knowing the history and how identities are built in Russia, there is more of a hope than a real possibility, but this is a really good step forward," he said.

During the meeting, the Lithuanian ambassador reiterated the invitation of Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus for Medvedev to visit the Baltic state for the Day of Statehood and the festivities surrounding the Millennium Anniversary of the Lithuanian name.
The posting is the ambassador's first major mission in his career. Prior to the appointment to Moscow, Vinkus headed Lithuanian embassies in Latvia and Estonia.