Some Signatories to the Act of Independence were struck by the wind from the East several decades ago. Unfortunately, the damage is irreversible. Some of them wanted to wait a moment for something and refrain from ‘irritating’ the greater power on that fatal day of 11 March 1990. Witnesses say that Egidijus Bičkauskas also marked time for some reason. Anyway, that was long ago. However, it seems that the wind from the East (in other words the wind from the Kremlin) is seeping through Mr Bičkauskas’ grey raincoat today, too. The wind is so strong that it confuses not only his legs, but also his thoughts.
Wind from the East at the rostrum of the Seimas
© DELFI / Domantas Pipas

Some say that we should avoid discussion or talk about such people in order to keep them from the limelight, but I cannot remain silent when somebody of the kind keeps speaking out from the rostrum of the Seimas. Yes, it is both an advantage and a shortcoming of democracy. Except democracy lies at the foundation of the statehood while certain talks bring about confusion in people's minds and perhaps lead to a wish to shake this foundation. Another man, named Juozaitis, also struck by the Kremlin wind, has recently said that 'we need to replay the 11 March 1990 and we will do so.' I wonder what they will proclaim independence from. Is it from their own foolishness, or perhaps animosity and hatred they incite?

Is it really worthwhile giving the floor, at the rostrum of the Seimas, to these nightingales that winter in the East? Do we all need to repeatedly hear a now classical motto sowing discord that 'the national defence budget should be given to kindergartens instead?' A news source in Russia has already appreciated Mr Bičkauskas' 'festive' speech by saying that 'he should be a role model for the Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs.' Putting social affairs against defence issues is not the only reason for that. Egidijus Bičkauskas puts many blames, and even historical ones, on the Western powers.

The Kremlin wind is howling at its loudest! The speaker, alas, has no reproaches to make to the country that has perpetrated the terror of occupation for half a century and today is waging war in Ukraine, mobilising its armed forces at the borders, building a nuclear threat in Astravyets, interfering with democratic elections abroad, dividing Europe, putting its own people who express a different opinion into police vans, and playing by its own rules in disregard of the principles of the civilised world and universal commitments.

I would like to think that Mr Bičkauskas merely had difficulty in articulation, confused something, or walked the audience along the grey area. However, his recurring motifs and his lack of courage to assess the aggressor shows that the speaker apparently made a consistent effort. He does not offer any solutions or alternatives. He merely questions the source of a major threat to our national security. He repeats the Kremlin's rhetoric that Lithuania has lost its sovereignty and has given up its independence to the West, that nobody will defend us, that Lithuania is a small country hardly capable of anything, etc. Moreover, the speaker utters a motto, less frequently used, that the US-Lithuania defence cooperation agreement is unconstitutional.

The 'festive' speech by Mr Bičkauskas does not contain any hint that today Lithuania stands on a par with other members of the EU and NATO. He does not give any mention that Lithuania forms a part of the community of democratic values and that we are a reminder to the world that human values of freedom, the rule of law, and democracy cannot be taken for granted and that they are not goods to be traded. Mr Bičkauskas somehow fails to note that, unfortunately, Belarus' and Ukraine's experience shows that balancing between freedom and non-freedom is counterproductive. Security cannot be achieved by questioning (as the speaker seeks to suggest) the need to enhance our defence capabilities or casting doubt on the existence of a real threat from Russia today. This could only contribute to confusion and erosion of solidarity.

By contrast, security can be achieved by promoting the unity of democracies and contributing in every way to collective defence capabilities. Lithuania has already made its choice. A Constitutional Act stipulates that Lithuania will never join any post-Soviet Eastern unions. We are determined about our membership of NATO and our joint commitments. Lithuania is safe and has a much stronger position in the European Union than ever before. Why question this? Why seek to polarise the public by using the Kremlin's clichés?

Signatories to the Declaration of 16 February 1949 by the Movement of the Struggle for the Freedom of Lithuania clearly knew the course Lithuania was to take and the principles of the restoration of independence. They were not struck by the wind from the East, far from it! Therefore, we rely on these Signatories rather than on a handful of those (who are somehow repeatedly given the floor) who seek to mess people's thoughts by their discourse and whose interventions leave us in fear and anxiety. We already know how to celebrate and enjoy ourselves despite fierce and provocative winds from the East.

In fact, to prevent radical speakers from usurping the floor at the rostrum of the Seimas, I propose that next time, the solemn commemorations at the Seimas include not only speakers who argue against the EU and NATO but also those who argue in favour. It is actually embarrassing when the cold wind from the East pierces through the Hall of the Act of 11 March.

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