That is what Lithuanian parliamentary Chairman Arturas Paulauskas said March 20 after meeting with a delegation of deputies from the Russian State Duma's inter-parliamentary group.
Delegation leader Alexander Chuyev said after the meeting that he saw a clear difference between current Lithuanian parliamentary Chairman Paulauskas and the former chairman, Vytautas Landsbergis. "This time, I saw not an opponent, but an ally," he said.
Paulauskas characterized Russian-Lithuanian relations as "sufficiently good," and noted a recent deepening in the relationship.
After the meeting, Chuyev said he could not discount the possibility that Russia and Lithuania may become political allies in the future. Asked to explain what he meant, Chuyev said he did not reject the possibility NATO would expand to include Russia some day.
"We don't consider NATO an enemy, and we will attempt to insure Russia isn't considered an enemy either," he said.
On March 19, the Duma deputies met with members of the Lithuanian Parliament's inter-parliamentary contact group with Russia. The Lithuanian group is made up of 60 Lithuanian parliamentarians. There are just 11 deputies in the Duma's corresponding organization.
Algimantas Matulevicius, chairman of the Lithuanian parliamentary contact group, said he hoped the deputies' visit would help thaw bilateral relations, which cooled after the compensation law was passed.
The law, drafted on the basis of a referendum, obligates the Lithuanian government to bring up the issue of damages with Russia, the legal successor to the Soviet Union. A special commission in Lithuania calculated the damages at $20 billion.