Exclusive interview of the lecturer Institute of International Relations and Political Science (Vilnius University) Mr. Vytis Jurkonis
How do You assess the security situation in the Baltic-Black Sea region?
The situation is tense. It could hardly be otherwise given the aggressive politics of Kremlin in the region ranging from manipulation, various kinds of pressure to an open conflict in Donbass, where people continue to die. Mistrust, fear, anxiety are much more common in such environment than cooperation and dialogue.
Nonetheless, the situation around the Kerch bridge once again evidenced that Kremlin is testing the tactics of the legal borderization. There’s an impression that Kremlin is applying their lessons learned from the borderization process in Osetia and is testing this with the Crimean peninsula and Azov sea. The debate around the attack on Ukrainian ships and the speculation around the right to attack was a complete nonsense, if one agrees that annexation of Crimea was illegal. It was shocking to see some of the reactions as if annexation of Crimea is already an accepted fact, which called for a concept of legal borderization. Which, unfortunately, is very worrisome.
Since the spring of 2017 some Lithuanian politicians working with the initiative of “Marshall Plan for Ukraine”. What can be said about it today?
I understand Lithuanian politicians promoting this idea. It’s understandable, catchy and is a symbol of a so called carrot for Ukrainian authorities and society in particular given that the reforms they need to go through are going to be painful. Nonetheless, I also believe that the size and capacity of Ukraine is so big that they could do fine even without it, if there was much more discipline and less corruption.
On the other hand, the recent news about EU approving disbursement of €500 million in Macro-Financial Assistance to Ukraine, shows that it’s not just an empty idea and it resonates in Europe. Lithuania certainly remains a strong advocate of support to Ukraine as their success will also be a success of Europe. Ukraine one way or another will be a game changer for the entire region.
Which position of Lithuania in the projects of energy transit?
It’s not an easy task, but Lithuania remains to be committed to make sure we are not coming back to the situation of the energy island reality, which was previously used as a blackmail instrument by Kremlin.
The successfully operating LNG import terminal „Independence“ is one of the examples of the strong political will and a success story of Lithuanian determination. The terminal allowed us to eliminate dependency on one source gas supplier and create functioning gas supply-demand market in Lithuania and the Baltics. Electricity interconnections (under-sea cable with Sweden, electricity bridge with Poland) are no less important steps in creating alternative of electricity supply and electricity market. These interconnections one of the vital preconditions for disconnecting from BRELL.
Diversification of energy resources supply already de facto happened. Market relations in the energy markets in the Baltics was created. New challenge is Astravets NPP which creates nuclear safety risks for the Baltics and Poland and new energy/infrastructure dependency/integration of Belarus with Russia.