Landsbergis soldiers on despite opposition

  • 2000-07-20
VILNIUS (BNS) - Russia has not given up its strategic interest of dominating the Baltic states, Lithuanian Parliament speaker, Vytautas Landsbergis, said.

Speaking on national radio, Landsbergis said he had noticed "Russia's particular opposition and activity" both in Lithuania and in the West so that "our invitation to North Atlantic alliance would be, at least, postponed."

"It is in Russia's strategic interest to continue its domination [of the Baltics]," Landsbergis said. "After all, we can see this expressed in Russia's foreign policy doctrine which has been made public recently, [in spite of] nicely worded passages where it says that Russia supports good relations with the Baltic states."

The recently released Russian foreign policy doctrine stresses "there are good future prospects for the development of Russia's relations with Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Russia speaks for turning these relations towards good neighborly cooperation beneficial to both countries."

However, the policy document specifies a condition, saying that the Baltic states should "respect Russia's interests, including the essential issue of observing the rights of the Russian-speaking population" in these countries.

According to Landsbergis, any kind of dictate "may be hidden within this condition."

"Or perhaps this means that if you make concessions and pursue the policy imposed by a foreign state, then, perhaps, the relations will be good," Landsbergis said.

He stressed that Lithuania and Russia do not have any problems with each other. There are no unresolved issues with regard to ethnic Russians living in the country nor any territorial claims or border disputes. The only unresolved issue was compensation for the damage resulting from the Soviet occupation and the return of Lithuania's pre-war embassy buildings in Rome and Paris, Landsbergis said.

Last June the Lithuanian parliament adopted a law authorizing the government to initiate talks with Russia on compensation for damage resulting from the Soviet occupation. The draft was initiated by Landsbergis. The Lithuanian parliamentary opposition accused Landsbergis of provoking Russia and damaging relations with its neighboring state.