In other words, the question in the title is about the fact as to whether we only require that our security team supervise the peace of our home or we are resolved to assist others, where the security team decides it necessary? Are we with the team or is the team for us? Up to now, our resolution to act together is proved by our soldiers’ participation in international missions – only they save the state from complete shame, which says we are in a danger zone, but which has been begrudging the costs of increasing our own security for entire decades on end. If you want to get, you must know how to give.
In 1990, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (PA), which was once called The Northern Atlantic Assembly, created the format to strengthen relations with the Central and Eastern European states liberating them from communist oppression. It was known by both US politicians’ family names, the ‘Rose-Roth’ seminars. The first historic meeting was held at the so-called hotel Lietuva between 16-19th of December 1991 under the Lithuanian diplomatic efforts and the name of the seminar was: Security Needs of the Baltic States. I remember the sleepless nights, when we, having just a few years’ experience, had to take care of the organization of this event.
And we succeeded. The representatives from various NATO countries, the new European democracies and Russia sat at the discussion table in a country outside NATO limits. The gates of the operating USSR military base were opened for the Western parliamentarians for the first time – the guests visited the Northern Borough, and the senior officers and politicians from Moscow participated in the seminar, being able to communicate with NATO participants in a peaceful environment, against whom they were taught to fight. As the power of Lithuania has actually no institutional memory, this step depolarizing the different sides was soon forgotten.
The real NATO Parliamentary Assembly (PA), the second one in Lithuania, has been held recently. Unfortunately, the relations with Russia are at their lowest point. In 1991, in Vilnius, we tried to join those who called each other enemies yesterday. The positive atmosphere prevailed and communication started, and mistrust melted because of it. Today, Russian politics destroys the foundation of international co-existence, which the world community managed to create after the greatest tragedies of the 20th century. Therefore, NATO cancelled co-operation with Russia after the annexation of Crimea.
We see two different NAP PA behaviour models: a go to a dialogue in 1991 and strict dissociation from the aggressor in 2014. They are caused by Russia’s initiative. The doors were open to friendship. The Kremlin made up their mind that they don’t need any friendship and the doors may be slammed with the stocks of Kalashnikovs.
The Parliamentarian organizations, as the tribune of the elected representatives, always have more free hands for action than executive power. This time, the NATO parliamentarians gather in a part of Lithuania bordering the Kaliningrad region. All the neighbouring countries have been worried about the continuously rising number of Russian armed forces in this area for a couple of years now. Military manoeuvre of an aggressive nature has been going on recently. All this on the NATO side, between Poland and Lithuania.
The Kaliningrad region was turned into a military platsdarm. The Crimea annexation history dreadfully warns us into what these platsdarm may turn into with the present Kremlin policy. The Sevastopol military base, becoming the supportive point to occupy the Crimea, is much less in military power in comparison with the Russian military forces accumulating near us.
The NATO PA could do well to remember that the Eastern Prussians were passed over to the USSR to only administer temporarily, in accordance with the Potsdam Conference decision of 1945. Its final status had to be decided by the Allies’ Peace Conference, which was never held due to the closed Iron Curtain. Today’s’ Russian behaviour urges us to raise the issue on Russia’s right to militarize this area, which she is entitled to administer, on an international level.
Certainly, Russia will ignore this requirement to stop undertaking the military platsdarm in the Kaliningrad region, but this requirement won’t disappear and it will shape the world’s public opinion about the illegitimate actions of Russia. The signatories from the USA and Great Britain regarding the Ukraine’s territorial integrity provided in the Bucharest’s memorandum of 1994 have now collided with a challenge, when the third signatory, Russia, has trampled its signed liabilities. The Potsdam agreement regarding Kaliningrad (Karaliaučius in Lithuanian) was adopted by the USSR, USA and Great Britain. The latter two countries have the legal right to raise an issue about the observance of this agreement.
Poland and Lithuanian are the most interested parties in a quiet neighbourhood, so it is natural that the Parliamentarians of these states, working in the NATO PA, should take the initiative. The common goal would approach Poland and Lithuania in one contact point, and the NATO PA would approve its resolution about the consistency: ready for good will initiatives and never trampling on fundamental principles.
In 1991, Lithuania based its right to take the Soviet Army out under international Law, and it was supported. During the first Rose-Roth seminar, there was no issue about whether it would be taken out. The talks were when and how it would be taken out. Some thought it was like a dream, but it came true. Today, perhaps many think that the demilitarization of the Kaliningrad region is just a dream. If they remain just dreams, if nobody believes in them, that it is right, so it is possible. And Lithuania, together with Poland, may inspire the allies from the NATO PA to hang the issue of Kaliningrad demilitarization in the screen-boards of the European policy.
The Lithuanian parliamentarians have much to do at home despite international waters. The political parties have signed an agreement that the country’s security budget will be increased up to 2 per cent. This has not been the first agreement. This may not be treated as a universal resolution due to the fact that it has not been signed by the leader of the Order and Justice Party, Rolandas Paksas, or the LLLRA leader, Valdemar Tomaševsk, or the “daredevil” chairman, Jonas Varkala. Sending their deputies to sign makes us think a space has been left to escape this liability.
Therefore, the Seimas could consolidate these Parties’ agreement by adopting a resolution that 2 per cent of the Lithuanian budget would be allocated to the country’s defence. After voting for such a decision, it would remain up to the next elections to the Seimas as a liability and it would not depend upon the possible composition of the Seimas in the future.
It should be clearly explained to the electorate that such a liability is not assessed as an injustice to health, education or social needs. If the nation wants that children go to school, but not run to the bomb shelters, the funds should be allocated. If people do not want to go to hospitals due to wounds caused by bullets and bomb fragments, such scenarios must be prevented by defensive capabilities.
A few months ago the population of Slaviansk thought that shootings and corpses in the streets were possible only in action movies. Unfortunately, the danger is near and it may be reduced only by our readiness, supported by our NATO allies’ power.