LITHUANIA: A CONTRIBUTOR TO THE EU OR A CONTRIBUTED ONLY?

upa-admin 06 Temmuz 2015 1.829 Okunma 0
LITHUANIA: A CONTRIBUTOR TO THE EU OR A CONTRIBUTED ONLY?

Introduction

The Second World War was the most destructive war humankind has even seen. Europe was the most damaged continent of the war. After the war, the continent was devastated either economically or physically. Most of the Europe was invaded by Nazis. Nevertheless, after the Nazi defeat, its leaders were trialed and Germany split into three different parts. However, Europe had faced another threat and this time from a wartime ally Soviet Union. In spite of it was clear that Europe was divided into influential zones between Western allies and Russia at Yalta Conference, it received as a shock from the European people. Europe was practically split into two blocs; the Western and the Soviet bloc. Western bloc which was formed by NATO and European Economic Community, defending “democracy” and “market economy”, whereas Soviet bloc which was formed by Council of Mutual Economic Assistance and Warsaw Pact, defending “communism”, “labor” and “state planned economy”. After the destruction of the Third Reich, occupied lands either restored democracy and independence or invaded by Soviets and had begun satellites of the Soviet Union. Some European countries like Albania and Yugoslavia had also formed socialist republics while being independent from Soviets during the Cold War, the indirect war and antagonism era between two camps.

Lithuania, which is a small country on the shore of the Baltic Sea, was early invaded by both Russian Empire and Nazi Germany and yet once again annexed to SSCB after the Second World War. Lithuania had remained as a Soviet Republic until 1990, her declaration of independence, which was encouraged by the fall of the Berlin Wall. Lithuania immediately integrated into the Western World and became a member of both European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 2004. Lithuania might not be the most influential country in the EU in the eyes of overwhelming majority, but especially with the rise of the Ukrainian-Russian clash, this idea is going to be ceased. However, the idea of this article is to analyze Lithuanian foreign and security policy and find out whether Lithuania influences EU in these policy areas or not. While analyzing Lithuania’s influence to aforesaid policy area, it is crucial to explain her historical background about its relations with her neighbors, especially with the Russian Federation. Explaining both European Union and Lithuanian history will be helpful in order to merge analysis about Lithuanian effect on EU’s common foreign policy and security policy. While reading the paper, audience is also going to find a summary on the European Union’s common foreign policy and security policy with referring to the importance of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992.

From European Coal and Steel Community to the European Union

After the World War II, Europe was war torn and economically devastated and need to repair its wounds. US’ isolation policies and harsh conditions of the Paris Treaty which was signed after World War I were seen as the main cause for Nazi’s public support and breaking out of a new world war. After the Nazi’s defeat, US became the main actor and supporter of the new world order. The Order is known as Bretton Woods System which led to new global institutions as well. As well as European integration procedure was triggered, which was introduced by then French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Robert Schuman, in order not to punish Germans harshly, but keep them near with a bunch of agreements. The idea is the main source of the European Coal and Steel Community. ECSC was formed by six states; France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Italy in 1951. Six countries which were agreed on running their heavy industries in common management and keeping them from building weapons of war which had caused the big disaster during the World Wars. ECSC also intended to unite European countries economically and politically. In 1957, the success of the Coal and Steel Treaty had gone further and Treaty of Rome was signed between six countries and they expand their cooperation to other economics sectors. Treaty created European Economic Community (ECC) and the “common market” was introduced. The idea was the people, goods and services to move freely within ECC. January 1st 1973, with the first enlargement, UK, Denmark and Ireland became members of ECC. In 1979, ECC citizens directly elected member of the European Parliament for the first time. In 1987, Single European Act was signed, which provided the basis for a six-year program that aimed free trade across signatory countries and has created the “single market”. In 1992, Maastricht Treaty was signed, while setting clear rules for the future single currency has introduced common foreign and security policy and closer cooperation in justice and home affairs. By Maastricht, the name “ECC” was replaced by “EU”, the European Union. In 1993, single market was completed with the result of a free movement of people, goods, service and money. On March 26th of 1995, Schengen Agreement was signed, which has allowed the citizen of the signatory countries to travel within the borders of the EU. The Treaty of Amsterdam has served to reform the institutions of the EU and had given the EU stronger voice in international affairs. On December 13th of 1997, the EU leaders agreed on starting the process of membership negotiations with Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. In 2000, Nice Treaty was introduced, which was all about amending Treaty of Rome and Treaty of Maastricht and also was about altering voting procedures of the EU members towards eastward enlargement. The treaty was ratified by nearly all countries but Ireland whereas she had also ratified the treaty in 2002. On January 1st 2000, EURO became the single currency and the Eurozone was formed which was different than the EU. On March 31st 2003, as a part of its foreign and security policy, which was one of the three pillars was introduced by the Treaty of Maastricht, the EU peacekeeping forces intervened to the wars in FYROM and Bosnia and Herzegovina. On May 1st 2004, ten countries-Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, and Slovakia, Malta and Cyprus- has joined the EU. This accession had seemed as a symbolical end of the division of Europe which was implemented during the Cold War. The Constitutional Treaty, which was signed on 29 October 2004, was targeting to make the EU more efficient in order to present the European Constitution. Naturally it had to be ratified by all member states and the referendum which was held in France and the Netherlands turned out to be “NO”. Hence, a “period of reflection” was announced and declared by the leaders of the EU. January 1st 2007 Bulgaria and Romania obtained fully membership to the fifty years old alliance and 27 countries are members now. On 13th of December 2007, the Treaty of Lisbon was signed by the members of the Union, which was targeting to amend all previous treaties and it was designed to make EU more democratic, efficient and transparent as well as to be able to tackle global challenges. The Treaty of Lisbon was ratified by all 27 states before it came into force on December 1st 2009. On September 2008, the world has faced an economically crisis which has started as mortgage crisis in the US and the EU has also experienced difficulties and this crisis led member states to have had closer economic cooperation in that sense. Following the Sovereign debt crisis in 2010, most countries have been facing difficulties to ensure their economic stability. Most eurozone countries failed to achieve the primary goals of the Stability and Growth Pact (SCP), which are not to exceed limits of 3% budget deficit to and 60% public debt.  March 25th 2011, The Euro Plus Pact was signed in order to “reinforce economic policy coordination in the Economic and Monetary Union”. July 11st 2011, Eurozone countries signed a treaty to create European Stability Mechanism in order to lend up to €500 to the Eurozone countries facing economic crisis. The European Union was awarded by Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 because of its sixty years of providing peace, democracy and human rights in the region. On July 1st 2013, Croatia became a member of the EU which makes Turkey, Serbia, Albania, Montenegro and FYROM the only candidate states. In a special meeting of the European Council in Brussels, EU leaders agreed on taking action in response to the 1,800 dead during their hazardous trip from Africa to Europe. In 2015, Greek debt crisis failed to be solved plus the crisis seems to become more complicated and destructive that it was before. Hence, the Greek referendum on 5th of June made a potential agreement by the EU and Greece hard and the situation remains very much unsolvable.

Toward a more unified and efficient Europe

Treaty of the European Union which is also known as the Maastricht Treaty represents a new stage in European integration as well as a political integration. Three pillars were introduced with the treaty; Economic Communities, European Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and Police and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters (JHA). Concept of the European Citizenship was introduced whereas the power of the European Parliament was reinforced, Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) was launched. Treaty of Amsterdam was the hopeless intention to amend to the Maastricht Treaty while Treaty of Nice was devotion to the “leftovers” of the Amsterdam Treaty. Amendments had increased the power of the EU by creation of the Community Employment Policy, had brought the EU and its citizens close as well as its certain member states. Treaty of Nice had also reformulated the procedure of votes in the Council and had extended of the areas of qualified majority voting. At Nice, countries had also accepted to simplify the rules on use of the enhanced cooperation procedure and had made the judicial system more effective. Maastricht Treaty basically had five aims but in order not to disperse aim of the article, audience is going to find detailed explanation on CFSP.

European Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSC)

First policy area that this article cares is the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSC). The basis of the EU’s foreign policy is being a “soft power” and praising diplomacy which is backed by trade, aid and peacekeeping. The EU had sent peacekeeping forces to Georgia after the South Ossetia-Abkhazia conflict with Russia and also to the Balkans to help seven Balkan countries to establish stability. EU has appointed an High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, who coordinates member states to shape a common foreign policy. High Representative is assisted by military and political staff. The fist military mission of the EU was in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2005 and had followed by the missions in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. In 2007, the EU has sent police forces to Afghanistan and in early 2008 an EU military force more than 3000 unit stationed in Chad and Central African Republic to protect refugees who were displaced by the war in Darfur region, Sudan. In 2008, the EU had launched its first maritime operation against pirates to protect humanitarian ships delivering aid to Somalia. In the wake of Arab Spring in 2011, the EU has re-launched its “European Neighborhood Policy” in order to help the wishes of democracy with those who were calling one. The EU continued to support the will for democracy and human rights despite the hardship of maintaining political or economic stability in the Middle East. An EU-Tunisia Task force had coordinated to achieve international support for the fight of democracy and human rights in Tunisia. In November 2012, an EU-Egypt Task Force created in the same target as in Tunisia. Refugees remained as the most crucial security issue in the EU whereas thousands of refugees trying to reach Europe tend to die on the way. The EU also favors two-state solution in the conflict between Palestine and Israel whereas the EU, the UN, the US and Russia work side-by-side to encourage two parties to reach a fair agreement. Thanks to the EU’s role in the peace talks in the Iranian nuclear program, negotiating parties are closer to an agreement more than ever. The EU has also cultural, economic and political cooperation with Latin American countries, fast-growing Asian states. After the Croatian full-membership, 6 Balkan countries aspire of being member of the EU, whilst the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia are already candidates, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina are possible candidates for the EU membership. The EU is still working on implementing rule of law in several Balkan countries and is trying to solve the Kosovo problem with decisive diplomacy. Kosovo has claimed its independence from Serbia in 2008, its internation status remained undecided. However, in 2013 international community has experienced promising dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo with the leading role of then High Representative Catherine Ashton. After the President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, had been ousted following to several months of Maidan protests, the relations between the EU and Russia entered in a conflictual period. EU foreign ministers strongly condemned Crimean annexation by Russian Federation and sanctions were imposed to Putin’s entourage. After the Presidential elections, Russia stated elections as illegal and the tension in the Eastern Ukraine remain provocative until today.

History of Lithuania

Lithuanian lands were united under Mindaugas in 1236. Lithuania had extended its territory to include most of the present day Belarus and Ukraine. By the end of the 14th century, Lithuania was the largest state in Europe. An alliance with Poland in 1386 led two countries into a union of a common ruler. In 1569, Lithuania and Poland formally united under a dual state, the “Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth”. The dual state had survived until 1795 and her remnants were partitioned by surrounding countries. Lithuania regained her independence in 1918 and in a very same day she faced an attack. Polish troops had invaded Vilnius in 1919. Russian government recognized Lithuanian independence in 1920 but with a military coup in 1926, the country had been left under a fascist military rule.

On August 23rd 1939, Russian Government signed a non-aggression treaty, known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, in which Lithuania was given to Germany. Lithuania became a Soviet Republic soon enough, but she was invaded by the Nazis a year later. However, Lithuania had remained as a part of the SSCB until 1991. Lithuania became the first Eastern European state to legalize non-communist political parties. Therefore Soviet military entered to Vilnius and thirteen protesters were died. With the unsuccessful coup against Gorbachev on August 1991, Lithuania declared her independence. The Soviet government formally recognized independent Lithuanian Republic one month later then her declaration. Ten days after, Lithuania became a member of the UN and accepted as a member of the EU and NATO in 2004.

Government in Lithuania

The Republic of Lithuania is running as a parliamentarian democracy. President is elected by popular vote for a five-year term, currently Dalia Grybauskaite. President appoints  Prime Minister, currently Algirdas Butkevicius, with the approval of the Parliament, or Seimas, 141 deputies, seventy one of whom are elected direct popular vote and seventy of whom elected by proportional representation. Parliament serves for 4 years term.

Lithuania in the EU

Lithuania is a member of the EU since 2004, member of the eurozone since January 1st of 2015 and member of the Schengen Area since 2007. Lithuania also held the rotating Presidency of the Council of Europe in 2013. Lithuanian population is nearly 3 million where its makes only 0.6% of total EU. Lithuania has 9 representatives on the European Economic and Social Committee and on the Committee of Regions whereas there ar 11 members of the European Parliament from Lithuania. In 2013, total EU spending in Lithuania was €1.881 billion whilst Lithuanian total contribution to the EU budget was €349.000.

Lithuania-Russia clash

Besides their troubled relationship coming from history, Lithuania has a dispute with Russia about its border to Kaliningrad region. Due to the Schengen Treaty signed in 2007, A Lithuanian citizen can easily travel within the borders of the EU. However, for a non-EU country citizens and for non-Schengen countries it is obligatory to require a visa for travelling. In Kaliningrad case it is rather different than normal. A Kaliningrad citizen, who wants to travel to another Russian city, let’s say Saint-Petersburg, has to acquire a travel visa, which is uniquely weird and also complicated. The uniqueness of Kaliningrad case does have another aspect. Kaliningrad had been occupied by several nations and its fortune did not differ much from Lithuania from this point. After the Second World War, Kaliningrad rested in Soviet bloc and experienced independence movement triggered after the fall of Berlin Wall, yet Kaliningrad has stayed in Russian Federation. However, Russians as well as Europeans have mixed feeling for Kaliningrad. Some Russians want to make Kaliningrad a free-trade zone while some are willing to centralize its status. On the other hand, according to Krickus, the author of “Kaliningrad Question”, Russia wants to turn this piece of land into a huge milltary base. It seems either crucial and provocative for the Russian-EU relations, especially in the middle of the Ukraine conflict.

In order to manage Kaliningrad question, the right to transit passage of Russians while not disturbing Schengen agreement, Lithuania had been adopted €32 million by the EU and still €108 million waiting on the of the implementation. Then Vice President Jacques Barrot in charge of Justice, Freedom and Security had welcomed the adoption of the multinational program for the implementation of the External Borders Fund. He also had stated that, with the approval of her multiannual program, Lithuania had shown its commitment to the establishment of the common integrated European border immediately after she has joined to he Schengen Treaty.

The Kaliningrad question influenced the EU and the Lithuanian foreign and security policy. After the sudden takeover of Crimea by the Russians, Kaliningrad has surfaced as a potential conflict zone. In March 2013, Russian troops had conducted a military exercise on Kaliningrad’s border with Lithuania and Poland, in which 3,500 units had joined. Furthermore, Russia had threatened the EU and the United States to put nuclear weapons to Kaliningrad just after U.S planned to set missile defense system (MDS) to Poland. Since then it stays unclear that if Russia has nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad or not. As Russia feels contained and crisis in Ukraine deepens every day, Kaliningrad and Lithuanian position augments as a crucial factor.

The European Union stands as the peace and democracy leap of the 20th century, she still has some flaws. The EU nowadays troubled mostly by economic problems whereas Ukraine crisis also remains very much as an headache. Lithuania is a small and relatively new member to the EU, after its independence from the USSR had rapidly passed to Western bloc and became as a member of the EU and NATO in 2004. This choice on this small Baltic country has never been accepted by the Russians yet Lithuanian promising way forward for adopting to the EU rules and regulations has to be taken into consideration too. Lithuania has both influenced relations of the EU with Russia in Kaliningrad issue while she has been affected by the EU’s common foreign and security policy towards the region.

 

Basri Alp AKINCI

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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