Lithuanian foreign policy | True Lithuania
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Foreign Relations of Lithuania

The foreign relations of Lithuania since the restoration of independence may be summed up in a sentence: “To leave the East and to (re)join the West”. However, the true situation is somewhat more complicated and not as stable.

In the early 1990s, Lithuania passionately broke ties with the former Soviet regime. It eagerly adopted capitalism and one of the few successful referendums ever (due to very strict referendum laws) requested Russia to compensate damages of the occupation. With the rise of Vladimir Putin in Russia (1999) the aims of restoring justice stalled as Russia failed to try the Soviet war criminals who murdered Lithuanians, attempted to whitewash the Soviet Genocide and refused to compensate its victims.

Initially summed up by the neologism “Euroatlantic integration” the Lithuania’s alignment to the west divulged into pro-European and pro-US stances as the agendas of the former Cold War allies separated. Under former US citizen president Valdas Adamkus (1998-2009) Lithuania was staunchly pro-American but later drifted to a more and more pro-European stance.

Plaques on Vilnius City Hall mark the city's World Heritage status (2002) and cites G. W. Bush speech he said to a crowd here during his 2002 visit to a pro-American Lithuania. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Lithuanian relations with the neighbors varies. While cordial with Latvia and Estonia, the Lithuanian-Polish relations are frequently marred by the issues of Polish minority in Lithuania and the Lithuanian minority in Poland. Despite this, Poland remains a close ally of Lithuania, unlike Belarus. Lithuania harbors emigrant opposition against the Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko, popularly known in Lithuania as the “Last dictator of Europe”. Belarus, similarly to Russia and Israel, has failed to try the people who participated in the Soviet Genocide of Lithuanians.

Under president V. Adamkus Lithuania supported the pro-democracy rallies in post-Soviet countries like Georgia and Ukraine. Remarkable relations with Georgia were developed and Lithuania positioned itself as the bridge between the Europe's East and West. Under the president Grybauskaitė (2009) this was initially supplanted by a so-called “pragmatic policy” that evaluated other countries by their economic importance rather than democracy record. The hopes that this would improve economy were left unfulfilled. Not surprising, knowing that Lithuania’s GNP per capita surpasses that of every single pro-Russian post-Soviet country, in some cases by 500%. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014, Lithuania re-adopted a policy more critical of Russia.

Būtingė oil terminal, one of several massive Lithuanian projects to ensure the energetic independence. Before the terminal was built, the only way for Lithuania to acquire oil was via a pipe from Russia, that would have been regularly shut by the Russians for political reasons. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Regardless of political leanings, most politicians support the goal of "energetic independence", which means costly projects to connect Lithuanian gas, power and other networks to Western Europe. For decades, many networks were integrated into the ex-Soviet system, making Russia a nearly-monopolist supplier able to sell at above-market rates as a form of political pressure.

Relations with other countries than named here are negligible, but Lithuania maintains embassies in Japan, Egypt, South Africa and the People’s Republic of China for economic ties.

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  1. Hello, when did Lithuania break ties with Russia? like a specific dater

    • Lithuania first became independent from Russia in 1918, occupied again in 1940 and independent again in 1990.

  2. hello, who are lithuania’s allies and enemies? specifically

    • The government usually considers the Western powers to be its allies. In the 1990s, mainly the USA, today, mainly the EU. From these allies, Lithuania tends to expect help, performing their demands in return. As a part of NATO, many of these countries are expected to support Lithuania in case of war.

      Lithuania also has allies in the Eastern Europe in a more equal relationship. Mostly those are the countries with a similar history of communist dictatorship and/or Russian occupation: Latvia and Estonia, for example. In case of poorer-than-Lithuania countries, Lithuania often tries to help and support them ensuring that they follow the path Lithuania went. This is a case with Georgia, Ukraine and such but it tends to change with the changes of government in both Lithuania and those countries.

      The biggest threat is usually believed to come from Russia and, to a lesser extent, its smaller allies (e.g. Belarus).

  3. Poland is currently assisting Lithuania connect to the main European electrical grid.

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