April 15, 2010 00:02 AM
Lithuania in the international media: from CIA prisons to the extermination of Jews
Mindaugas Jackevičius

Fascist Lithuania will demand money from Russia for aggression, because the tramp “Balts” want to grab money in any way possible; the question of comparing the crimes of Nazism and Stalinism is marginalization of the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews and speculation on the facts of World War II. These are the thoughts about Lithuania you run across in the Israeli and Russian press. At the beginning of the year foreign journalists were also interested in the resignation of foreign minister Vygaudas Ušackas and his posting as a special EU representative to Afghanistan, the closure of Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, the story of CIA prisons and Algirdas Šemeta’s conspicuously blank [?] presentations to the European Parliament.
* CIA prison search characterized as “management”
* In trouble for attempts to equate Communism with Nazism
* Italian press roasts “hardheaded” Ušackas pliekė
* D. Grybauskaitė: from nominal president to most-influential person
* Hope replaces economic pessimism
* Unmerciful criticism for A. Šemeta
* Prime minister’s advisor proud Lithuania shown as example

Judging from the synopses prepared by the Foreign Ministry’s Information Monitoring and Analysis Department, the world media paid close attention to the halting of the Ignalina reactor. The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times said Lithuania, in obedience to EU demands to halt the exact same kind of reactor that blew up in Chernobyl in 1986, found herself on the threshold of energy dependence. The US press said Lithuania tried to negotiate an extension for two or three years but EU headquarters wouldn’t have it. The Financial Times published an article titled “Lithuania Worried about Insecurity after Reactor Unplugged.” “It’s perhaps difficult to imagine a less favourable time for the country, experiencing the greatest recession since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, to unplug the reactor. Ironically, they may have to turn to Russia to fulfil additional national energy demand. In the energy sense, the Baltic states have become a desert island within the contours of the EU,” the prestigious daily wrote.

Russian news agencies Regnum and km.ru also reported on the change in Lithuania’s energy future. They said Lithuania, by turning of the power plant, had become the first country in the world to voluntarily completely give up atomic power. Regnum’s article was called “Lithuania Acquires ‘Energy Independence’ from Common Sense.”

Search for CIA prisons characterized as “management”

Switzerland’s Neue Zuricher Zeitung carried a small report on how a Lithuanian parliamentary investigative commission released its findings on CIA prisons outfitted and operated near Vilnius where US agents interrogated terrorism suspects. The findings said that the Lithuanian State Security Department was the only [agency of government] to know about the incarceration sites near Vilnius, that the department worked directly with American intelligence, and that the then-leader of the country was not given any information.

Canadian news website globalresearch.ca published an article on the Lithuanian parliamentary commission’s investigations which found two CIA camps in Lithuania for suspected terrorists. “The findings published showed that Lithuania is the first European country where this kind of ‘cooperation’ with the CIA was established,” the article said.

At the end of February Germany’s Die Zeit published an article called “Lithaunian Tidying Up.” Lithuania is praised for conscientiousness in the article. Unlike Romania and Poland, Lithuania, according to the author, solved the problem of the existence of CIA prisons in the country openly and transparently. Die Zeit said it was clear that it wasn’t easy for the EU country [Lithuania] to sort the situation out with the Americans.

“Lithuania lost one third of her citizens to war and the terror experienced from 1940 when Stalin ruled the country, and later when it was occupied by the Germans and the Soviet Union. The majority of Lithuanians with this trauma view Washington as the guarantor of their freedom. Thus the bravery and democratic spirit ringing in the words of prime minister A. Kubilius are all the more worthy of honor: ‘The USA is our most important partner, but this does not excuse the use of Soviet methods,’” the newspaper said.

In Trouble for Equating Communism with Nazism

The genocide problem didn’t go unaddressed either. The news website Algemeiner published an article that the Guardian also published. It’s an angry [statement] over attempts by Eastern Europeans to rewrite history by combining the concepts of Nazi and Soviet genocide. The author opposes the Eastern bloc’s pressure exerted on EU countries to consider the crimes of Nazism and Communism as equal and reminds readers that up to 90% of the Jewish population was exterminated in the Baltic states (more than in all [other] EU states).

The publication says local enthusiasts took up the extermination and pogroms against Jews in Lithuania and Latvia raged for a considerable time even before the Germans invaded. The Jerusalem Post published “Remembering the Holocaust Accurately,” which addresses equating Nazi and Stalinist crimes. The author calls such attempts marginalization of the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews and speculation on the facts of World War II. The author agrees that the victims of Stalinism were truly important, but says that comparing them with the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews is not correct because Communism didn’t have as its goal the total extermination of any one nation [ethnicity, people] and only eliminated those who disobeyed [disregarded] the ideology of the new regime.

Russian news and analysis webpage pravda.ru presented an article that asks whether a resolution adopted by the Lithuanian parliament demanding the Russian Federation recognize the fact of aggression against independent Lithuania on January 11-13, 1991, and demanding compensation for those harmed during the events, is correct [legal, fair] from the viewpoint of international law.

Russia’s Nash Vek published an article called “Fascist Lithuania to Demand Money for Aggression from Russia. The Baltic Tramps Want to Grab Money Any Way They Can.”

“Hardheaded” Ušackas Roasted in Italian Press

The foreign press was very interested in foriegn minister Vygaudas Ušackas’s resignation and his becoming an EU representative in Afghanistn. The Financial Times wrote about it, and said that when Ušackas stated there had been no terrorism suspects imprisoned in Lithuania, he incurred the disfavor of president Dalia Grybauskaitė. The president, based on the conclusions of a parliamentary investigating commission, said she was certain there was an illegal prison operation.

The Wall Street Journal the minister was forced to resign over disagreements with the president over the existence of CIA prisons in Lithuania and on relations with Belarus and Belarusian leader Lukashenko.

European Voice reported that Vygaudas Ušackas after his resignation as foreign minister was nominated as special EU envoy to Afghanistan by head of EU foreign policy C. Ashton. The text said Ušackas resigned under pressure from president Grybauskaitė and Ashton hoped neither Grybauskaitė nor the Lithuanian government would hinder Ušackas assume the post of special EU representative to Afghanistan. European Voice characterized Ušackas’s nomination as the first such important victory by new EU members.

Spain’s El Pais criticized Ashton for nominating Ušackas special EU envoy to Afghanistan. It alleged Ušackas has a lack of experience, and said that he was given such responsible duties, which are currently the biggest challenge for the international community, as a representative of a small country without influence.

Italian diplomat Ettore Francesco Sequi, who has held the post until now, is Ušackas’s biggest competitor for the job. It’s probably for this reason that the confirmation of Ušackas’s candidacy has seen especially abundant coverage in the Italian press.

Corriere della Sera wrote that the Italian candidate is having bad luck and the controversial former foreign minister from Lithuania will lead the EU mission in Kabul. The newspaper described Ušackas as agreeing with London/Washington policy and recalled that he resigned after the [Lithuanian] president expressed lack of confidence after the scandal of illegal CIA prisons in Lithuania. La Repubblica also informed of Sequi’s failure and announced the post of EU envoy to Kabul had been given to someone without any work experience in Afghanistan, Ušackas.

The report calls Ušackas “hardheaded,” someone who can be relied upon to caryr out Anglo-American policy. As if that weren’t enough, Ušackas’s selection, by reducing the weight of the Italian position in EU structures, is called premeditated and controversial [intended to excite controversy]. A report on the confirmation of Ušackas’s candidacy was published on pinoarlacchi.it [?],gazeettadelstud.it, nigro.bougatore.republica.it, la7.it, iltempo.ilsole24ore.it, lastampa.it, apcom.net and ecodibergamo.it [??? looks like blogs and personal websites...].

Grybauskaitė: from nominal president to most-influential person

The world media also featured other topics from Lithuania. The meeting of Sniegas [the refrigerator maker? or some meeting called Snow?] in Trakai and the president’s popularity were not forgotten. Here Regnum provided an article called “Lithuanian between the US, EU and Russia: New Policy?” which details changes in Lithuanian domestic and foreign policy after Grybauskaitė became president. The article says that after an half-year Grybauskaitė went from being “the [a?] nominal president” to “the most influential person in Lithuania.”

Austria’s Salzburger Nachtrichten reported Catholic Lithuania and Poland were standing in solidarity with Italy against a finding by the European Court of Human Rights that crucifixes and all images of the cross should be removed from Italian schools.

The prime minister’s visit to USA to attract investors and provide information on the economic potential of the country, Lithuanian participation in operations by the international community in Afghanistan and news connected with PKN Orlen didn’t go unnoticed either.

Hope replaced economic pessimism

In January the foreign media reviewed 2009 economic results and handed Lithuania the prospect of rising out of recession. According to AP/ABC News/Forbes the Lithuanian economy contracted 15 percent in 2009. These are the worst economic indicators during all years since restoration of independence. The report quotes the head of the Lithuanian central bank predicting zero economic growth for 2010.

But in February in reports on the Lithuanian economy a more optimistic view dominated. The New York Times reported growth in revenues by SEB bank in last quarter 2009 over third quarter 2009 when the Baltic states hit their economic bottom. SEB general director A. Falkengreen said the situation in Lithuania is stabilizing and the loan provision process had normalized [?].

Reuters reported on economic stabilization tendencies in Lithuania in an interview with Sweden’s finance minister Anders Borg. “The situation in Lithuania is a lot better than it was one half-year ago,” he said. This was good news for Sweden’s banks SEB, Swedbank and Nordea with exposure in Lithuania. Russian analysts [reporters] doubted Lithuanian economic prospects. Baltic Review noted overall growth of negative articles about Lithuania on Russian webpages. The opinion is being formed that Lithuania has a plethora of problems and has absolutely no solutions.

Russia’s ekspert.online.ru [?] reported that Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia had achieved an anti-record in the competition among European countries for largest drops in GDP. The article said no one calls them Baltic tigers anymore, as they did several years ago when the Baltic economies grew rapidly. It said the tigers are tired and this year promises nothing good for the Baltic states, that the fall of the economies of the Baltic states will be long and deep.

Unmerciful criticism of A. Šemeta
Candidate for Euro-commissar A.Šemeta received treatment in the international media. Financial Times reported European Parliament members criticized Lithuanian candidate A.Šemeta during parliamentary hearings. The Lithuanian candidate was unable to answer clearly questions about prevention of tax havens and EU funds management.

“The future commissar [commissioner] for customs and tax union and fighting fraud left several questions unanswered and showed he is vulnerable in his future field,” vicepresident of the European People’s Party Othmar Karas said in a report that was distributed [?]. Reuters reported MEPs had reservations about Šemeta as a candidate for the post of tax commissioner. Member of the budget committee, socialist Jens Geier said A. Šemeta provided no firm [concrete, specific] answers and instead announced initiatives already being considered.

Finnish paper Helsingin Sanomat reported on the questioning of Šemeta. “The general impression was disappointment. It raises the question of whether he’s appropriate [competent] for such responsible duties,” Austrian Hannes [?] Swoboda, vice chairman of the socialist faction, said after the Šemeta hearing.

Prime Minister’s advisor proud Lithuania shown as example to Greece

“I think it’s a positive thing that Lithuania was named among the positive examples in the world of how to do away with the economic crisis, especially compared to Greece. In this regard the press roundup was not complete, in Europe as much as in the USA Lithuania and the Baltic states were pointed to as a certain kind of example on how to manage the economy. This is good news,” prime minister advisor Virgis Valentinavičius told delfi.lt

Valentinavičius said that criticism on efforts to link Nazi and Communist genocide is in a certain sense a traditional theme in the global media and will be a tradition until Lithuania finally solves the problem [the final solution?]. He said that there is allegedly movement toward a solution in the preparation of legislation for compensating Jewish assets.

Valentinavičius was surprised that press roundups include serious Western publications alongside Regnum webpage publications. “It’s neither serious nor objective, and rather openly pushes Russian interests when writing about Lithuania,” the prime minister’s advisor advised.

He said when writing about Ignalina Nuclear’s closure, Regnum isn’t able to express glee, because this directly affects Russian energy interests in Lithuania for maintaining Russian energy influence. Valentinavičius said he thought the venue was being used not for describing Lithuania’s aspirations [goals], but rather for expressing a certain kind of displeasure over the energy independence being created in Lithuania.