EU requires more solidarity to overcome 'ongoing aggression'

As Lithuania marks 25 years of independence, Petras Auštrevičius calls for more cooperation in defending western values.

By Petras Auštrevicius

Petras Auštrevicius (LT, RE) is Parliament’s rapporteur on the Eastern Partnership and standing rapporteur on Belarus.

03 Mar 2015

On 11 March, Lithuania will mark 25 years since it declared independence from the Soviet Union. However, the joy of celebrating its journey as an independent and modern European state is being tainted by the current geopolitical context and particularly the intensification of Russia's ongoing aggression towards Ukraine.

Nevertheless, at this critical juncture as Europe confronts the biggest security challenge since world war two, it is worthwhile reflecting on Lithuania's example and reminding ourselves what it takes to rebuff an aggressor. We should also keep in mind the concepts of solidarity, univocal diplomacy and collective action.

Assessing Lithuania's progress from 1990 onwards, the inevitable conclusion which follows is that a decisive factor in its success today was the country’s decision to follow the western governance model and ground its freedom and statehood foremost on democratic values, respect for human rights and the rule of law. I am convinced that Lithuania is the perfect embodiment of a genuine model of positive globalisation effects - a state which dared to be the first to declare its independence from the union of Soviet socialist republics and managed to become an integral part of the western world by consistently undertaking reform measures resulting in its economic and political prosperity.

"[Russia] aims to promote an alternative value system based on vague and extreme ideology"

Needless to say, joining the EU and Nato in 2004 were key milestones. It guided the country towards effectively conducting multilevel structural changes and fully exploiting its freedom potential. In addition, due to these memberships Lithuania developed crucial security links which, I believe, especially at this critical time play a deterrent role, reducing the likelihood of external aggression.

Analysing Russia's actions on Ukrainian territory and the Kremlin's rhetoric it becomes apparent that Russia wants to expand its sphere of influence by promoting aggressive foreign policy and challenging the prevailing cold war order. It uses a wide array of coercive means including terror, intimidation and propaganda, which aims to promote an alternative value system based on vague and extreme ideology. To achieve this Russia has engaged in victimisation and anti-western rhetoric. This means that in order to defend the integrity of Europe’s borders, a collective effort and a strong partnership with the US is necessary, via a structured political dialogue and cooperation in the security, economic and trade fields are a prerequisite.

It is important to note that no European state has sufficient military capabilities to guarantee security on its own. While celebrating the day when Lithuania was enjoying the first taste of freedom 25 years ago, we should remind ourselves how fragile freedom can be. The EU should strengthen solidarity between member states and show more determination to act collectively in foreign policy and sustain its partnership links with the US, as the only credible global actor in the field of security.


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