Lithuania’s banking and monetary systems are a bit of a mess, making this a reachable goal but a difficult one.
Beneath the success of these individual stories is a somewhat odder truth: the Baltics only fit the European Union slightly better than they did the Soviet one.
It is not too late for Europe to win this game; but at this rate, Moscow will lose soon.
This is a story told in anecdotes and figures of Lithuania’s own struggles with holding onto its population. It is worth the time.
Getting completely out from Russia’s deeply unpleasant embrace should be Lithuania’s first, second, and third foreign policy and economic priorities.
Lithuania summoned the Russian ambassador for a dressing-down this week, an act that will no doubt cause Putin to quake in terror the very instant it is backed by a military larger than Russia’s.
Lithuania has come far since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Despite Moscow’s best efforts to preserve old ties, holding the EU presidency will firmly weld Vilnius to the West.
In a little-noticed news item last week, Lithuania announced that it will re-open talks with its fellow Baltic states and Hitachi to open a nuclear plant outside of Visaginas.
Europe is tired of the Gazprom monopoly and isn’t going to take it any more. At least, that appears to be the message from Lithuania, which will take over the European Union’s rotating presidency in July.
Vilnius inevitably will be drawn further into the debate over how best to extricate troubled European states from their economic difficulties. Lithuania is particularly interested in stabilizing the eurozone since Vilnius hopes to enter the monetary union in 2015.