President Valdas Adamkus Gave a Lecture at VMU (Updated)

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On March 30,  the VMU Faculty of Political Science and Diplomacy (Gedimino g. 44, room 203) welcomed the VMU Honorary Doctor, Chairman of the University Council and the former President of the Republic of Lithuania, Valdas Adamkus. In his meeting with students, Adamkus read a Lithuanian-language lecture titled "Lithuanian Foreign Policy: In What Direction Are We Going?" ("Lietuvos užsienio politika: kur link einame?"), in which he shared insights on the current political trends and future perspectives of Lithuanian foreign policy.

Indrė Sekevičienė, i.sekeviciene@vkt.vdu.lt
Martynas Gedvila, m.gedvila@vkt.vdu.lt

"I am thankful for the opportunity to hold this meeting – I am very pleased to see the members of the academic community, to hear your questions. When I was invited to read the lecture, many of you probably thought that it is easy for a president whose term of office is over to discuss these issues. But it is not that easy to talk about what was done in more than 10 years, what was not done and what could have been done", the former President Valdas Adamkus said.

Made ourselves seen and heard

In his lecture, the President recalled the facts of Lithuanian diplomatic political history, the objectives that were declared and still have a relation to the goals of today. "I cannot not mention some of the events of those days, which, in my understanding, have a close association to today. The main objective set for the foreign policy during the period of the establishment of the state in 1918 was to become recognised and equal members of the international community and the League of Nations (LON). Does history not repeat itself?", Mr Adamkus asked rhetorically, hinting at similarities between the LON and the EU and naming one of the major foreign policy goals of the time, which has been eventually realized. "Today we are already accepted as full members of the EU and the Transatlantic organization NATO – we are seen and heard. A lot of effort had to be put in to earn this recognition", the President said.

Answering the audience’s question whether the Lithuanian contribution into activities of NATO is substantial enough, Mr Adamkus claimed that from the very first days Lithuania has joined in into very constructive work. "Our contribution is big and appreciated. Concerning our soldiers, as far as I have heard in talks with the highest officials of NATO, it was said that for the hardest of tasks, which required confidence, intelligence and experience, Lithuanians were picked. That is the highest evaluation one could have ever expected", Mr Adamkus explained.

Current processes are sudden and unexpected

According to Valdas Adamkus, talking about Lithuanian foreign policy today is becoming harder: "That is not because someone is restricting our opportunities to talk. The current processes are sudden and unexpected. It will become easier to analyze them from the perspective of time".

Reviewing the current Lithuanian foreign policy (observing it, in the words of the President himself, "from the substitutes’ bench"), Mr Adamkus mentioned earlier comments about its alleged pro-American or anti-Russian trends. However, the President claims that it would be difficult to provide a clear and applicable definition for today’s foreign policy.

"While previously we used to be criticized that Lithuania is actively, and perhaps even too actively, participating in the Eastern European democratic processes, today we could be criticized for nothing but the unsolved issues in the Eastern Lithuania. A question arises – what happened? Why did our foreign policy squeeze us into such a tight frame?", Adamkus asked rhetorically.

Discussed questions of energetics

Some time of the lecture was devoted to questions of energetics and Lithuania’s long-term energetic dependence. "Today I am worried about the security of Lithuania much more than a few years ago. According to the analysts, we have become an actual energetic province of Russia. From my understanding, this is not the end of it", Mr Adamkus said.

Speaking about the processes in the neighbouring countries, the former President quoted the Article 18 of the Constitution of Belarus, which declares that "the Republic of Belarus aims to make its territory a nuclear-free zone", and remembered the agreement signed by Belarus and Russia a few weeks ago for the construction of a new nuclear plant. "Is this agreement not anti-constitutional in respect of this country’s citizens?", debated Mr Adamkus.

 No change in attitude towards unity

Valdas Adamkus discussed the relations with other neighbours of Lithuania as well. In his answers to the audience’s questions about the current policies, relations between national minorities and the education reforms of Lithuania and Poland, the President said that it is always possible to find a compromise solution. After remembering the last ten years, which took to build good immediate relationship among the two countries, Mr Adamkus made a mention of good opportunities available in Lithuania today for the Polish people to preserve their culture in our country.

The attending public also asked questions about the relations with Latvia: "From my experience of working with Latvian presidents, I can say with certainty that, as far as our common national affairs go, there were never any disagreements or tensions", the President replied. He named two more notable disagreements: the unsigned border agreement which is now 20 years old and the differing positions on relations with Russia concerning the celebrations of Russia’s victory against fascism on May 9. "Our opinions split there. I think that Lithuania cannot participate in a commemoration of event after which Lithuania was occupied for 50 years – I do not have a moral right in the face of the victims of those times", – Mr Adamkus claimed.

The President said that the meetings of the Baltic countries were always honest, they were talking in one voice. Valdas Adamkus ensured that, as far as interrelationships go, the collaborations between Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia as well as their attitudes towards unity remain unchanged.

When the academic community members enquired Mr Adamkus about the relationship with Russia, the President answered that "Lithuania has always publicly declared that it wants friendly, honest and mutually respectful relationship. This has not changed".

All about agreement and support

In the lecture, the President emphasised the importance of a long-term policy based on agreement among political forces and support by the public. Mr Adamkus expressed opinion that "all of this would grant our country not just recognition and interesting possibilities of economic development, but also an honourable position in the external politics of the European Union".

The lecture of March 30 was the fifth public lecture held by the former President of the Republic of Lithuania Valdas Adamkus, open to all members of the university’s academic community. It was organized by the VMU Faculty of Political Science and Diplomacy, the Academic Club of Politics, the Dept. of Political Science and doctoral student Giedrius Česnakas.

The opportunity to participate in the lecture was provided to anyone who wanted as it was broadcasted live to two other rooms at the Faculty of Political Science and Diplomacy. 

In 1989, Valdas Adamkus was one of the people involved in the re-establishment of Vytautas Magnus University, he is also an honorary member of the VMU Re-establishment Council. On December 18, 2001, Adamkus was awarded the title of the VMU Honorary Doctor. Since June of 2010, President Adamkus is also the chairman of the Vytautas Magnus University Council.

In February 2011, Valdas Adamkus, the VMU Rector Prof. Zigmas Lydeka and the Kaunas City Mayor Andrius Kupčinskas signed the founding agreements for the Valdas Adamkus library-museum at the Lithuanian Emigration Institute (S. Daukanto g. 25). The presidential library-museum will preserve and introduce the society to Valdas Adamkus’ heritage of public and political activities, publicize intellectual contributions, encourage and support research on Adamkus’ public and political work, organize exhibitions, conferences, seminars and trainings, concern itself with production and circulation  of video and audio material, establish scholarships to researchers of Valdas Adamkus’ activities.

You are welcome to view the photo report by Jonas Petronis.

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