It appears Lithuania expects major changes in the near future. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius was on an official visit to the United States of America from February 20-24, 2017. During the visit he said that Lithuania seeks the permanent presence of United States troops in its territory.
“We have requested stationing of military forces in our country on a more permanent basis – not only rotational but also more permanent,” the minister told BNS in the telephone interview from Washington D.C.
Linas Linkevicius’ call for the permanent presence of United States troops in Lithuania territory can be regarded as forthcoming constitutional changes. The matter is, under Articles 137 of the Lithuanian constitution (http://konstitucija.lt/lt/konstitucija/137-straipsnis/) there may not be any weapons of mass destruction and foreign military bases on the territory of the Republic of Lithuania.
The unlikely words of the Lithuanian high ranking official demonstrate only his personal point of view. It is improbable also that he asked for permanent foreign military presence in the country without coordination with the President and the Government.
But do they have the right to act against the Constitution? As it is well-known the Government is only the executive branch and might not violate the Constitution and decide for Lithuanian people. The more so, locals are not happy at all about foreign soldiers, who often behave themselves without any respect to citizens.
Such an issue as foreign troops deployment on a permanent basis is at least an issue for public discussion and then the amendments to the Constitution should be adopted by Seimas. The third step is a new law execution by the Government and people.
Under another article of the Constitution (Article 25), the citizens shall have the right to receive, according to the procedure established by law, any information concerning them that is held by State institutions. The Minister of Foreign affairs also violates the Lithuanians’ right of receiving information. It seems as if the decision had been made before Linkevičius announced the request was in the US. Lithuanians learned about it only from media resources ex post facto.
If Mr. Linkevičius was authorized by the Government to seek the permanent presence of United States’ troops in the territory of Lithuania it means that national authorities do not respect the citizens of their country and feel themselves omnipotent.
It is clear that if such an agreement between the United States and Lithuania is signed it will for sure cause a negative reaction from Moscow, and will lead to an even greater confrontation. This issue is even more than questionable, because may cause two basically different consequences. On one hand it can be the indicator of NATO’s strong capability to defend its members, and on the other – it can force Russia to further increase its military strength. It is the so-called vicious cycle. A chain of events in which the Russian response to Lithuania can aggravate the existing threat of an open confrontation.
Defence and security are obviously the main tasks of Lithuanian politics, but the Law is the Law, not empty words. To obey the Law, and to respect the rights guaranteed by the Constitution are the main responsibilities of the Lithuanian legislative branch. I do not want that Lithuania should go down in history as the country that provoked a war due to lack of political wisdom.
Adomas Abromaitis is a Lithuanian expatriate living in the United Kingdom.