Speech by Mr. Vytautas Landsbergis
Chairman of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The time has come to speak frankly. Signals from the Western capitals are already telling us that we should not expect a good news concerning Lithuania's security when Poland and two other Central European states are accepted to the North Atlantic Alliance next year. "Nothing is expected to be said in relation to you’" this is how they make us adapt to the potential political pushing-out from the frozen Euro-Atlantic security area to the post-occupational zone of uncertainty and risk. Events are likely to take this course, though we hope this will not happen eventually.
Silence about the Baltic states in April 1998, not mentioning any one of them among the nearest applicants to NATO would amount to a negative sign implying the enforcement of Russian expansionist idea about the zone of its special interests. At the same time, apparently, it implies the acknowledgement of the de facto right of the powerful to determine the future of the Baltic states in one or another way. This would also mean a riskier future for the West itself which is capitulating already; thus, we will oppose this pushing-out not only for the sake of ourselves. On the other hand, the zone of interests is very well known to us by the nearly sixty-year-old concepts and events.
In 1999, we shall commemorate the 60th anniversary of Stalin and Hitler
conspiracy, which marked the start of World War II initiated by Germany
and the Soviet Union. To Lithuania this meant hundreds of thousands of
lives taken away and half-a-century long annihilation of economy, nature,
spiritual life and humanity. None of the countries, perpetrators of these
crimes, have even offered their apologies yet. We have won a part of our
freedom already, but not the whole of it: we still cannot enjoy the actually
recognized freedom to choose an international security structure, i.e.
the Atlantic Alliance. Which in turn means, that the Molotov-Ribbentrop
pact, the "zone" delimited by it is still alive in the consciousness of
politicians, even after 60 years. Our freedom is restricted by the will
of Russia's political elite, which makes the elite of democratic Europe
At the beginning of 1999, we shall say: "five years have passed since Lithuania handed in an official document asking to be accepted into the North Atlantic alliance. Have we received any answer yet?" Most probably no - no answer. What kind of office is that which fails to reply to an essential document for five years? It fails to give an answer to our nation and state which did much to bring to a collapse the monster of the red totalitarianism, to allow Russia at least to try some other ways, and make the democratic Europe feel safer. We have contributed to your security, we are saying to the West, and you were able to save billions, hundreds of billions; yet, when we are asking for security for our small state, we find ourselves speaking to a brick wall.
After Poland's accession to NATO in April 1999, the area of peace and security should be further extending Northwards, and not Eastwards. If we are not issued any answer, no clearer sign of the future membership, this shall also be an answer testifying to the disability of the West to do what is justified and just, and not to commit mistakes. Words about the open door were meaningful a few years ago. It is even uncomfortable to repeat them now, if the talk remains vague. However, in any case, who could assure that in April of the next year in Washington politicians shall not be repeating the empty phrases?
For example, in words we are being told that we are a historical and real part of the family of Western civilization, however, when we knock on the door - "the open" door! - we are left outside, in the yard. There, any creature may attack and tear you to pieces just to construct for itself some halfway-gnawed satellite. Do the westerners know that Russia’s laws that are valid today provide for the special social guarantees for its officers in the event they suffer damages and injuries fighting in the Baltic countries? Attention, please: they shall suffer injuries fighting on our land some time in future, it is simply foreseen!
Has anybody noticed that a special military exercise was just recently held in Pskov region? Permitted by the revised CFE treaty Russian army went out on a sudden march till the Estonian border. The exercise was called "Operation Comeback." The West permitted to increase the army standing just in front of the Baltic states, and further remains blind to everything. The Estonians are happily dreaming about the European Union, and the latter still does not know if it should invite Lithuania to open the negotiations. Maybe it shall wait a while, since a large exercise was recently also held in Kaliningrad region, with firing of the "striking missiles." One may ask, which neighbor is Kaliningrad preparing to strike? Moreover, one may wonder whether the West may label this behavior of Russia as "confidence building measures’" though quite a number of such words have already been put down, signed.
In the same manner, more questions arise. What would happen if a huge fire erupted in the East just behind us? Since, in fact, anything can happen there, and it is not so difficult to realize this. For instance, a hungry army, unmanageable by any center. Shall we see, then, the West extending a helping hand or shall this hand be withdrawn in fear of getting it burnt?
When Stalin was demanding the West not to conclude a separate peace agreement with the loosing Germany, nobody reminded him that it was him, Stalin, who was the first to conclude such "peace" of allies - dictators with Hitler; and nobody required a reasonable thing: that for being on the same side with Western allies until the victory, the soviets should undertake to withdraw their armies from the occupied countries immediately after the war was over. Such demands were not raised. The Atlantic Charter went into a dustbin. Once again, we were the means of paying; such was the Yalta barter, which predetermined the horrible misfortunes for nations, for which nobody assumes responsibility. No promises are being made to us in return to extend stronger security guarantees today. Moreover, the politicizing westerners are sometimes telling us that the occupation suffered by us is our drawback: we have already been sold, sacrificed, already "soviets"; therefore, our restored existence is again creating problems and is annoying or irritating.
The Russian politicians of yesterday's thinking are in particular irritated by our wish to become secure; thus, from the West we hear a piece of advice "not to irritate." The same was suggested 60 years ago, when Lithuania was hit by the ultimatums of three neighbors one after another.
Lithuania, however, has no wish to once again find itself as a commodity on a counter where the great traders conduct their bargaining. Anyway, if it happened so, we fail to understand why the West cannot tell Russia something straightforwardly. In a number of cases, the unhappy and highly unbalanced country even experiences the shortage of borders; it has neither money, nor guarantees against the chaos that is called "smuta" in Russian. Yet once again it receives donated funds for saving itself and pressing its neighbors. Thus, why it is impossible to say: "Well, here are lots of billions for you again, but forget about your dominance in the Baltic States. They want to be with the West, and we provide haven to them!"
Maybe this seems to be the ransom of hostages, yet it is better to ransom somebody, rather than give money out of fear for nothing. The funniest thing is that in exchange to the money, the West receives the orders of the officials of the partner-Russia: "We will not let the Baltics be accepted! Niet!" What could that mean? At best, states that are the most benevolent towards us translate it in a softer way: see, Russia disagrees, thus, you are in for a long-lasting waiting. This is how we come to experience the actually recognized veto right of Russia.
And when Western politicians claim that they do not recognize this right of Russia, these are only words, words, words. Another "confidence building measure," which brings the West another humiliation. The day is approaching when three Central European states will become NATO members. If on that day nothing is uttered about other states determined for the membership, in particular about Poland's neighbor and strategic partner Lithuania, in other words, if empty phrases or a shameful silence follow the fanfare on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of NATO, we will bear witness to moral and political catastrophe of the West.
Lithuania poses no danger both in the East and in the West, however the West is able to create disasters for itself as it has happened in the past. For instance, it has proceeded towards them by tucking money into the quagmire where the red-starred explosives are getting rusty, and by not insisting on the removal of the detonators in order to accomplish true changes. The Western money, given away without proper control, has probably done more harm, while the speaking about the reforms in Russia has made it possible to avoid implementing them. Today everybody is reaping the harvest of political illusions.
Next to all that is happening in our neighborhood, the international situation could be destabilized to an even larger extent. This is what would result from an unfortunate decision of the West to halt the steady process of peace guarantees, i.e. the enlargement of the North Atlantic Alliance. If, by halting this process, the Western politicians destabilize the present positive development of NATO and thus awaken the Eastern imperial appetite for the former colonies and dominions - who will be responsible? Names will be entered here. On the other hand, names of the brave people who did not stop the NATO enlargement will be put down here forever too.
To be reminded again and again: if the West gives away a certain part of itself, the part which is less valued by them, for instance, a country or countries on the Eastern coast of the Baltic sea, after that - something else, in terms of morale and geopolitics, will have to be given away.
There was the Baltic Way in 1989, there is the Atlantic way now - for everyone or not? There is the Munich way - not yet abolished, not yet closed - but still looming. And the direction of the latter is very well known.
The situation of Lithuania is special. When defending itself against the West in the Middle Ages, it naturally halted "Drang nach Osten." In later centuries up until the end of the twentieth century, it halted Russia's "Drang nach Westen" by defending itself against the Eastern imperialism. The country can be further employed for this purpose. "You, our partner Lithuania, endure the vacuum of security, endure for long without actual support from us, and later we will see whether you should be offered the Atlantic, or Munich way," this is the stand of the West, not worded yet, but felt in the forecast of events 1999. The vacuum, however, is not everlasting, the vacuum is usually filled; air or something else works its way into the vacuum from the side where the pressure is greater.
Until now Lithuania has not received the most important elements of armament it needs. Nevertheless, Lithuania will not follow the Munich way; it is a part of the West and will not abandon this position, even if it had to express regrets about the doubts of the Western ally. A short while ago, Lithuanian press published the remarks of the former commander of the German Army, Bundeswehr General Major Dietrich Genschel, about our path to NATO. I would like to quote a couple of ideas from that article: "Russia's opposition and Western concern [about that]‹poses a powerful obstacle for the continuation of the accession process," and that "The Baltic states are placed in an adverse position as a result of large gaps in the guarantees of firm security. Accession to NATO is the only way to fill in this gap."
These two points are separated by a vast field where one can notice
newly ploughed areas of secure life and trenches of the old insecure life.
That is the field where the political diplomatic work is carried out and
moral political fight is waged.