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.
With Europe in recession, the East will face continued tough times. However, even today some countries and some companies are doing well. With the right policies, the region can prosper in spite of the West’s difficulties.
The increasing cooperation between Poland, Lithuania, and wider Eastern Europe on energy could be one reason why Moscow has been seen recently as trying to drive a wedge between the Baltic neighbors.
The Eurozone continues to go from bad to worse. Greece may be on its way out. Spain wants a bank bail-out. Buried amongst this depressing cascade of impending catastrophe is some good news. The Baltic States have demonstrated the art of economic reform.
Poland and Lithuania unfortunately are stuck in a “bad” neighborhood with a large, over-bearing former overlord next door. They have an obvious incentive to work through their problems and cooperate, given their shared concerns.