This post is also available in: English
In Lithuania, the struggle has begun for the country’s exit from the European Union and the creation of a “national state”. The new Zalgiris National Resistance Movement was created by Respublika media concern owner Vitas Tomkus.
Publications belonging to the Respublika media concern, which owns one of the major daily newspapers of the same name, the ELTA news agency, and a number of other media outlets, regularly raise the question of the price of Lithuania’s stay in the European Union.
According to Tomkus, “Lithuanians should have the right to be proud of their nationality.”
A typical example of an anti-European campaign unfolding in the country is an interview with Respublika newspaper by a member of альalgiris, a philosopher and famous politician Romualdas Ozolas.
“The European Union swallowed us, putting forward obligations directed against the status of a nation state as an independent state. We do not have banks and enterprises, agriculture has been destroyed, at least a third of the Lithuanian land is no longer the property of the Lithuanians … This has not happened in the entire thousand-year history of attempts to enslave us, ”he said.
The prospect of the Lisbon Treaty is especially scary for the supporters of the idea of a national state, after which, according to analysts, the country risks losing the opportunity to influence decision-making in the EU.
At the same time, President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite sharply criticized the concept of “leadership” of Lithuania, saying that her fellow citizens are leaders only for themselves, since representatives of other European states do not consider them as such.
How the voice of Lithuania is heard in the European Union
Last week, the cadence of deputies of the European Parliament ended in Strasbourg. For thirteen of our parliamentarians, and indeed for all of Lithuania, this was the first such experience. From June 4 to 7, new elections will be held in all 27 countries of the European Union, not 13 but 12 deputies will be elected from Lithuania – after Romania joined the EU, the quota for all countries has decreased. Nevertheless, despite the five-year history of being in the main legislative body, almost nothing is known about the work of deputies from Lithuania. And in the European Parliament itself, Lithuania’s voice is hardly audible. Why is this happening, the correspondent of the “Lithuanian Courier”, who attended the final session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, understood.
Mechanism without screw
The European Parliament is a huge bureaucratic mechanism that is directly or indirectly served by about ten thousand people. Only in Luxembourg there are about two thousand translators alone, who translate each deputy’s report into 27 languages of the European Union. 785 deputies themselves, who are elected by direct election, 492 million people across the continent. And there is also a huge staff, assistants, deputies, experts, consultants – the whole army, which most of the time meets in Brussels, but once a month, for one week, moves to French Strasbourg, where the second headquarters of the European Parliament is located. Most decisions and laws are not adopted during meetings where deputies come already knowing how to vote and debates are arranged only for order, but in narrow identical corridors that look like a labyrinth, and in offices, or in committees, and sometimes directly in numerous parliament cafe.
The second army already comes from business representatives with tails for deputies. All kinds of lobbyists from different countries scurry back and forth in identical black suits and impermeable sunglasses. Everyone has an interest in their structure, whether it is a bank or an oil company, and they all defend some decisions that are beneficial only to them or to their country. This order has been established in the European Parliament over decades and at least one screw is missing in this mechanism – Lithuania. Against the background of such an anthill, the voice of our country is either inaudible or almost inaudible. There are no delegations of business structures from Lithuania who, like local lobbyists, would try to push through some decisions, nor experts from the government or the Seimas who would mediate with our European MPs and agree on how to vote for a particular project. And thirteen deputies from Lithuania themselves were somehow lost among such a mass. However, it is difficult to blame our European parliamentarians alone. As a rule, society itself is not yet used to the idea that all the most important comes to us from Brussels and Strasbourg, and the media do not often pay attention to the processes in Europe – we write and talk more about our Sejm and the government. Although it is in the European Parliament that some decisions are made that sometimes completely change the situation directly in our country. It is enough to recall the sensational so-called directive on surveillance – the law on the storage of information of all mobile subscribers, which stirred up Lithuania only after it had already been adopted in the European Parliament. When there was only debate on this issue, and it turned out that it took a very long time, no one in Lithuania even debated whether this law is bad or not, but when it was adopted and there was no way to change anything, the media suddenly started talking about ” police state ”and total surveillance.
Lithuania – in its infancy
According to the European Parliamentarian, communication with our ministries is also unsatisfactory. Allegedly, the ministers almost resent why they should work for deputies from Lithuania?
“It’s just not clear. Here we must defend the interests of neither someone but our country. Indeed, if the positions worked out by the ministries on various issues are not even transferred to the deputies of the European Parliament, then all the work of the government is zero.
Plus, purely political interests often take up. I am a representative of one party, and the government is different now. It starts right away: how am I the minister from such a party will work for this deputy, who is generally from another party ?! We are still in the infancy stage with our institutions. For example, Minister Krevis (Minister of Economy Dainius Krevis. – Ed.), He is afraid to meet with me. I asked him about a meeting about five times. And on business and energy issues. During the meetings of the committee I really need a clear position of Lithuania. But he avoids this meeting. Politicians in Lithuania do not understand that we have no parties here, there should be one party here – Lithuania. This is our Lithuanian disunity and the search for enemies, all this has been transferred here to the European Parliament. Therefore, our deputies from Lithuania do not meet, do not discuss, do not discuss various issues, although, in my opinion, this is simply necessary. There were only thirteen of us here in five years, ”continued Birutis.
The second pancake is also lumpy?
According to the politician, something similar can happen after these elections, when the winners will go to Brussels and Strasbourg almost to serve the entire cadence for a good salary, but really will not protect the interests of the country.
“Looking at the lists of current candidates, I again see that those who come to ask for a committee on international relations will come, as if this is the most important thing for Lithuania. Of course, there are many people who want to philosophize over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and discuss the fate of countries, but we, as a small country, cannot afford such luxury. There are 80 deputies from Germany in the European Parliament, but even they don’t allow themselves this and disagree on committees that make decisions that are important for their country. We will now have not 13, but 12 deputies, and we allow ourselves this. I don’t know then why people come here to sit in a calm environment and make money? But to prevent this from happening, the voters themselves must demand responsibility from the politicians who came here, and this requires a lot of information, ”the politician noted.
In the post-Soviet countries that became members of the EU, according to the deputy, this problem is the same for everyone.
“We have a mentality such that Brussels, like Moscow once, must say something from above. There is no such thing, we ourselves must defend our interests. For example, Slovenia. The same small country as ours, but their methods of upholding their interests are completely different. So they overtake us: the euro has already been introduced, and their economic situation is different, ”Sarunas Birutis was indignant.
According to him, in the European Parliament during the creation of the law, everything revolves around one speaker who is responsible for this law. Deputies discuss him with him, lobbyists revolve around him, etc. Our speaker in the Sejm has the same viewer as everyone else. He did not even read the law, for which he was formally responsible, and then ministers came to the Sejm and the deputies asked them questions that had just been shot in their heads.
“So you are a legislator, what are you asking questions then? You yourself must know everything thoroughly. Therefore, laws are adopted at one point, without even reading or analyzing how they will affect the socio-economic situation. That is why only 12% of the population trusts our Sejm. In all countries of the European Union, it is higher than 40%, while we have 12%. Phenomenon. All this is due to the fact that people do not understand by what principle laws are adopted, and how qualified legislators are. We only play legislators, ”the politician is convinced.
In his opinion, it is possible to prepare for a meeting in discussion committees in ten minutes.
“Well, or write a resolution, which is very fashionable here. They wrote a resolution, corrected it, accepted it, and set themselves the plus – how important we are, we adopted the resolution. But this resolution really goes into the bin. And I look at the lists of current candidates and see only the speakers, but not those who will really work and do the dirty work, ”concluded Sarunas Birutis, who passed to the European Parliament from the Labor Party.
However, in the opinion of the members of the discussion committees, those who have never spoken at all in all these five years just hide behind the idea that they have been working almost like laborers all this time. In fact, according to them, you can take the statistics of performances and see who really sat in his pants and who really did something.
“I was lucky when I came here, I already had friends here. And one deputy, who has been sitting for more than the first cadence, told me that the main thing is to focus on several topics and to hit all these goals for five years. Then you can achieve something, ”said Justus Paleckis, who was elected by the Social Democrats.
“Of these goals, I will mention, perhaps, a few. Firstly, speaking with the Germans, Poles and other representatives of even the new EU countries, I noticed that Lithuania is very far behind in the field of housing renovation. In Poland, a long time ago, renovation was carried out in 40% of houses, in Estonia – more than 10%, and in our country – now and then only about half a percent. We held a large seminar on this topic here. Of course, we cannot force our government to do this; I wrote more than one letter on this subject. But we managed to change the restriction – earlier it was impossible to use more than 2% of the EU structural funds for renovation. We have removed this restriction. This problem is very important for Lithuania and I can say that it was my initiative. We have convinced many parliamentarians and various groups and achieved this, ”said the MP.
The politician said that in the next cadence, a law could be adopted that could significantly reduce emigration from Lithuania, and according to a rather original scheme, money in exchange for the brain.
“The biggest loss during Lithuania’s EU membership is that we lost several hundred thousand, maybe half a million young people who left Lithuania to other countries. Both brains and working hands are leaking. But in fact, to prepare a good doctor, you need to spend 20 thousand euros. To prepare the pilot, you need to spend 60 thousand euros. In a word, a third of our doctors from Lithuania leaves immediately after graduation. It turns out that we train programmers, doctors, engineers for other countries, which, moreover, are richer than Lithuania. Does this coincide with the principles of the European Union? Not, no so much. And I succeeded, it is recorded in the manifesto of our socialist party, that a mechanism must be created that will compensate for these losses, ”continued Eustace Paleckis.
This scheme, he said, can work as follows: for example, if England or Scandinavia receives a ready-made specialist from Lithuania, they pay a certain amount to a certain fund, and from it the salary of scientists, doctors, teachers, and other specialists increases. The latest equipment for laboratories is bought, so that there is no motive to leave. And such examples, the politician claims, already exist. The Spanish socialist government pays a certain amount, for example, to African countries, if a person with higher education comes to work from there.
“It seems to me that during the cadence of the next parliament, we should press in this direction so that such a mechanism is created. This is especially important for Lithuania.
I also managed to succeed in lowering visa prices for eastern countries. From 65 to 35 euros managed to be reduced for Russia, Ukraine, for Belarus has not yet succeeded. Three years ago, the issue of abolishing the visa regime with the United States was inscribed in my resolution. It was written there that if the United States does not cancel the visa regime for new countries, then the EU will take retaliatory measures. Of course, this was only one of the drops that helped America change its position. Three years ago, on my initiative, a trip of a group of parliamentarians to the Kaliningrad region was organized. After this trip, many issues were resolved. For example, the problem of the well-known D-6 platform disappeared from our routine, the Russians signed an agreement on joint rescue operations in the event of an accident. The question of demarcation of the border has moved forward – I’m not saying that our trip was a decisive step for this, of course, others worked, but it was one of the measures that helped, ”added Eustace Paleckis.
Without information, we will lag
However, in some respects the opponents from different committees agree. According to Eustace Paleckis, Lithuania really knows almost nothing about the results of the five-year work of the European Parliament.
“A country that is not interested in what is happening outside of it will be a lagging country. I always give Estonia an example, which is half as much as our population, but they have more newspaper circulation, more book circulation. A country that is more open both to the European Union and to the whole world – it will be more successful. And to blame for the fact that in Lithuania there is a lack of information and society, and journalists, and parliamentarians. Need to be interested. Indeed, now the European Parliament does not have very large powers, but when the Lisbon Treaty is adopted, the European Parliament will be able to stop many of the most important decisions of national parliaments, ”the politician concluded.
According to him, ignorance of the processes in the European Union could literally lead to disaster in Lithuania. However, the fact that our country stands apart from the rest of Europe is visible with the naked eye to the economic situation in the old EU countries – it turned out that for ordinary citizens of the same France, the economic crisis is just a word that everyone heard about, but practically did not feel .