There is broad agreement on the major lines of Lithuanian
foreign policy, which is NATO membership, EU membership and
other European structures, and a particularly close
relationship with the United States. Lithuania is now a
member of all the major Western cooperation institutions. In
the spring of 2004, Lithuania joined both the EU and NATO.
At the referendum on EU membership the previous year, over
90 per cent had given their support. On December 21, 2007,
Lithuania joined the Schengen cooperation. According to
the euro replaced the old Lithuanian currency as of January
1, 2015. The country joined the OECD on June 5, 2018.
Relations with Russia
Relations with Russia are strained, and Lithuania has
assumed the role of driving within the EU for a restrictive
line with neighboring countries. This is an important part
of Lithuanian foreign policy.
Compared to Estonia and Latvia, the Russian minority in
Lithuania is small. With only 6.3 percent, the Russians make
up a significantly smaller group than in the two northern
Baltic republics. Immigrated Russians from the Soviet era
gained citizenship at the time of their release in 1991,
unlike in Estonia and Latvia.
The withdrawal of Russian troops in the country from the
Soviet era was an important issue in its time. The last
Soviet soldiers left Lithuania in August 1993. In 2008, the
National Assembly passed a law that paralleled, and banned,
Nazi and Soviet symbolism. The Sejmas National Assembly
reintroduced public service in 2015, citing the Ukraine
crisis and the Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.
An increasingly important issue for Lithuania, both
domestic and foreign, is energy. Here, too, relations with
Russia are central. Lithuania is still dependent on Russia
in terms of oil and gas supplies. Following the closure of
the last Ignalina reactor in 2009, this also applied to
electricity. Lithuanian priorities are now to get an
electricity bridge to Poland, cabling to Sweden under the
Baltic Sea, as well as construction of a new nuclear power
plant in Ignalina.
Relationship with Poland and Latvia
Relations with Poland are also strained at times. The
right wing in both countries has history politics as one of
its political pillars. How to write the story of the
important cultural city of the time, Wilno (now Vilnius),
which fell to Soviet Lithuania when the borders were moved
after the Second World War, is central here. The same
applies to the rights (including linguistic) of the ethnic
Poles in Lithuania. In 1992, the two states signed an
agreement on mutual guarantees for the rights of minorities
in both countries, but there has been controversy over
whether Lithuania complies with it. The existing border
between the states was also recognized in the agreement.
Contrary to the question of minority rights, there is no
dispute about the border demarcation.
Relations with Latvia have generally been characterized
by cooperation, although there have been disagreements over
sea borders in connection with oil exploration in the Baltic
Lithuania was among the nations that supported the US
strategy during the Iraq conflict in 2003, together with the
other Baltic states, Poland and the Czech Republic. Thus,
Lithuania was a member of the "Coalition of Volunteers" who
contributed militarily when the United States, without a
Security Council decision, entered Iraq in 2003. The country
thus opposed the Franco-German line in the Iraq issue.
Similarly, Lithuania followed the US line in the open
military conflict that erupted in Georgia in the summer of
2008 following a Georgian attack on separatist forces in
South Ossetia and a subsequent Russian march. Also in the
Ukraine conflict, Lithuania has emerged as a strong critic
of Russian politics.