Zygmintas Pavilionis (left), Ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania, argues a point during his lecture, “Vilnius Lessons: Reflections on the First Lithuanian EU Presidency.”
Lithuanian Ambassador to the US Visits Center
by Gavin Jenkins, EUCE/ESC Newsletter Editor
In 2013, Lithuania became the first of the three Baltic states that emerged from the Soviet Union to hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. On Jan. 8, 2014, Zygimantas Pavilionis, Lithuanian Ambassador to the United States, visited the EUCE/ESC and gave a lecture titled, “Vilnius Lessons: Reflections on the First Lithuanian EU Presidency.” Ambassador Pavilionis earned a Master’s degree in philosophy and a PhD in political science from Vilnius University. In 1993, he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and before becoming Ambassador in 2010, he held such positions as Assistant Director of Policy, Ambassador-at-large and Chief Coordinator for Lithuania’s Presidency of Community of Democracies, and Chief Coordinator for the Transatlantic Cooperation and Security Policy Department. He played an integral role in Lithuania’s accession into NATO and the European Union, and when he visited the University of Pittsburgh, EUCE/ESC Newsletter Editor Gavin Jenkins had a chance to sit down with him.
Q: As the first of the states to emerge independent from the Soviet Union to hold the position of President of the Council, what did the Presidency of the Council of the EU mean to Lithuania?
A: It meant a lot. I’ve been a diplomat for 20 years and 16 years of it I was integrating Lithuania into the European Union. When we joined in 2004, and I was Deputy Chief Negotiator, I’d been working in Brussels for three and a half years. People in Brussels were telling us, “This is not a real membership. Real membership won’t be until after you hold your first presidency.” Because when you are in charge of business completely, when you are coordinating and responsible and trying to lead some projects, then you feel it in reality. I think that was exactly the feeling. This year will be our 10th year of membership, but only after this presidency can we say that we do not feel as a new member state. Ten years, it’s something. We don’t look old, but we look experienced enough to run the business from a European perspective.
Q: As President of the Council of the EU, did Lithuania accomplish all of its goals its parliament agreed upon?
A: Well I don’t think I could ever state that we accomplished all of our goals because the last 23 years the thing we’ve done is just transform ourselves every day. The moment we stop, I think that’s the beginning of failure. We are living on the frontier of the west, you can say, of the west that is trying to stabilize the region and grow it, to transform other countries around. We have to be strong. We have to transform. So we had a lot of ambitious goals, and I would say, yes, most of them we kind of accomplished. I would start with the economy. We’d been known as one of the best growing economies in the EU, and we have been trying to transform our economic success at least partially to that of European Union. From the first days of our presidency, we agreed upon a budget. I always like to tease my friends in Washington, “We agreed upon a budget for seven years for 28 countries, and you know, well, learn from us if you can.” And we agreed on some further steps on banking unions. During our presidency, we saw the EU emerging from depression. We are growing again on a European scale; the Baltics have the fastest growing economies, with 3 and 4% GDP each year.
On the external front, we were able to put enlargement back on track. Being the “kids” of enlargement, we believe in that dream, and we still think that this is a business that is not completely accomplished. We have to fight for those millions of Europeans still waiting to be part of this recognized, wealthy club. With Croatia joining the European Union on the first days of our presidency, while of course it was not so much our accomplishment, but still we were happy with the symbolic start. Then we were able to re-launch succession talks with Turkey after three years of them being stalled, and then we were happy to promote, with the European Commission, the implementation of the so-called Thessaloniki Agenda agreed upon in 2003, meaning enlargement to Balkans. We see Serbia. We see Montenegro starting succession talks. Well, we see other countries still trying to do the same. Little by little the promises of 2003 have to be fulfilled. But we’ve also been pushing an agenda on the east, with a so-called Eastern Partnership, and some people say it was during our presidency that this project [toward] the east created some kind of tangible results. We’re expecting more, but at least with a few countries, like Moldova and Georgia, we initialed agreements that we hope will soon be signed. Those agreements are leading those countries to Europe. They will transform those economies in the way we’ve been transformed. From the day of our signature agreement to accession, in nine years, our economy grew six times. We hope it will be the same with Moldova and Georgia. Well, it didn’t succeed with Ukraine. Until today, we thought that could be a historic beginning to Europe’s east. But we still think that’s kind of possible. Not today, but tomorrow because when we look to all of those Europeans in the streets of Maidan, in Kiev, it’s the whole nation banging on the doors. If the minority is keeping them down, it’s only temporarily.
Q: Did Lithuania have particular goals for the Presidency related to the Baltic region? In what ways did Lithuania further the Baltic region with its position?
A: Yes, we’ve been working in that region, but mostly we are concentrating on sectoral issues, which are still unsolved even after 23 years of transformation, meaning energy. During our presidency, we agreed upon a list of projects that will be financed through the next budget and with it we will try to eliminate as much as possible our dependency on countries that are dominating the region. We are 100% dependent on Russian gas, and this Russian gas, the price we are paying is the highest in the world, at least in Europe for sure. We are paying six times more than the average American, and with our salaries it’s really painful. It’s a political price we’re paying for reforms we’re pushing in the region. We know it, together with the Ukrainians, [we pay] more or less a similar price. Well, they’ve got it less, but at a real cost. So, we try to avoid the cost by introducing energy security reforms for the region.
This year, we will open the first Baltic LNG terminal, a floating terminal, now being built in South Korea. This ship will be called Independence, and we will be waiting for gas, including from America. That’s why I’m actively trying to convince my friends, Congressmen, and people in the [Obama] administration; we recently had a meeting with your Energy Secretary, asking to open the doors of gas export to the world. This is the way Americans can change the world. The autocracies are keeping democracies down with their huge energy prices and different kinds of weapons they have. This is the day with American technology to change the world, to liberate those people. At least from the NATO alliance, if we are NATO, if we are family, if we defend those values together in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Balkans, then we have to defend our energy security together, as well. If Americans think they can do it only alone, it’s not true. The alternative is not outside. It’s already inside. We are competing with the autocratic world that is becoming stronger. For the last seven, eight, nine years we are counting a diminishing number of democracies in the world. We are under extinction, dear friends, and in order to keep our way of life alive and free, we have to help each other, including on energy. So energy exports from America, we have just four terminals that are allowed to export your gas. We are asking for permission for 18 from Congress. We hope it’s going well. We have shale gas. We are trying to build nuclear power plants with GE and Hitachi. The Russian neighbors are not happy. They are building alternative plans trying to kill our project. Well, it’s a struggle for independence again, but we hope we will be successful.
Q: Was there pressure on Lithuania as the first post-Soviet or first Baltic state to hold the presidency?
A: Yes, unfortunately from the first days of our presidency to the last days; well, why should I hide? Russia was launching different kinds of attacks against our presidency from covert attacks against the diplomats to different kinds of intimidation and economic embargos. Our milk and cheese until now is not being imported by Russia because for some strange and unannounced reason they halt it. In the same way they did with the way Moldova and wine or Ukraine and chocolate, though sometimes it sounds ironic, but they are trying to create an impact on the politics of my country through economy, through businessmen. Also, in a very aggressive way, trying to convince those governments that are trying to transform themselves according to the European model not to do it by blaming and different kinds of economic coercion and means. They did it with Armenia and Ukraine. If they think they can rebuild the Soviet empire in this way, I don’t think they will because if you look to the European Union, that’s the only alternative in the region that provides for human rights, for democracy, for freedom, for economy to go well. We are a wealthy and innovative club, and we help each other, and we safeguard our national identity. We safeguard every human value that is important for every human. If you want slavery, if you want dominance, if you want something else the KGB likes so much, it will not work for a long period of time. It’s temporary. People simply don’t want it. It’s unhuman, autocratic, and totalitarian. And we know it. We’ve been in prison for 50 years, we’ve been fighting, and we won. Our American friends, they were helping us. They never recognized our occupation. My embassy, because it is now the second oldest in Washington, DC. Our diplomats were living and working inside the embassy for 19 years during the occupation. Americans allowed us to do it. We had no state. No money. No electricity sometimes. We’ve been fighting and we knew this would be right. So, if Mr. Putin thinks he can do it, well, he can do it for some time, but not for long. €
Conversations on Europe
On Nov. 21, the EUCE/ESC continued its monthly roundtable series, Conversations on Europe, with a video conference devoted to “France as a Global Leader.” The Conversation was conducted entirely in French and was moderated by Professor Pierre Landry of the Department of Political Science at the University of Pittsburgh. The panel of experts included Professor Laird Boswell of the History Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Professor Jean-Philippe Mathy of the French Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Professor David Pettersen of the French and Italian Department at the University of Pittsburgh. With the help of audience participation, the Conversation focused on recent developments in French foreign policy and how it relates to domestic and regional concerns.
Pizza and Politics
The EUCE/ESC ended 2013 with two interesting Pizza and Politics talks. (Pictured right) On Oct. 29, Yasemin Irepoglu-Carreras, a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science, presented a lecture titled, “Decentralization, Interactive Governance, and Income Inequality: Spain and Sweden.” Irepoglu-Carreras argued that fiscal decentralization makes inequality more likely while the interactive nature of governance offsets this effect. (Left) On Dec. 3, Evgeny Postnikov, the EUCE/ESC’s Library Research Advisor, gave a talk titled, “Valued Exports: Social Standards in EU and US Trade Agreements.” Postnikov focused on the bilateral preferential trade agreements of the EU and US in the cases of Chile and South Korea.
Courtesty of Wikimedia Commons
Croatia’s New Year’s Resolution:
The Case of EU Law and European Relations
by Victoria Harms, PhD Candidate
History Department, University of Pittsburgh
The European Union’s latest member began 2014 with a surprise: On Jan. 1, Croatian news reported the arrest of Josip Perković, former agent of the Yugoslav secret police, the UDBA. The unusual case had caused diplomatic rows, when three days prior to Croatia’s accession to the EU on July 1, 2013, the parliament in Zagreb had passed a law against the extradition of Croatian citizens. This law was widely believed to be intended to prevent Perkovič’s extradition to Germany, where he is charged with first-degree murder. The controversy has chilled relations between the historically friendly countries.
West Germany maintained good relations with the Socialist Federation of Yugoslavia, of which Croatia was a part until 1991. In response to already existing immigration, the two states formalized the hiring of guest workers in 1968, when they signed an Agreement on Recruitment for Temporary Labor. Yugoslavia was the last in a long list of South and South Eastern states providing West Germany with low-skilled and skilled workers to complement its booming economy. Recruitment ceased with the onset of the oil crisis in 1973. However, immigration to West Germany continued, as by then many Yugoslav guest workers were well integrated into the job market and decided to reunite their families in the Federal Republic.
Economic ties between the two countries continued to grow strong. In 1972, Volkswagen, the German automaker, built a manufacturing plant near Sarajevo, the Tvornica Automobila, of which it owned 49%. It manufactured the second most popular cars in Yugoslavia (after the Yugo), the Beetle 1200 J and 1300 as well as the VW Golf I and VW Jetta I. German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher (1974-1992) has explained that Yugoslavia played an important role as leader of the non-aligned countries. West Germany’s economic rapprochement with the socialist federation sought to support its independence from colonizing encroachments from Moscow, Genscher insists. German companies certainly did not get the short end of the deal in this ideological reasoning. Car brands such as BMW or Mercedes remain unparalleled status symbols in the Yugoslav successor state. By now, the German supermarket chains Lidl, Kaufland and Metro have stores in Croatia, too, and German products are readily available.
The Foreign Office states that today about 400,000 Serbs and 223,000 Croats live in Germany. However, this is not only the result of economic immigration and family reunifications. After 1991, during the Yugoslav successor wars, some 350,000 people fled to Germany. In 1991, in a move that was controversial, Germany was the first to recognize Croatia’s independence. Many believe this action accelerated Yugoslavia’s slide into a brutal, violent and bloody war. Then Foreign Minister, Genscher has claimed that he decided to announce Germany’s recognition of an independent Croatia on December 23, 1991, only after a joint but confidential agreement by EC foreign ministers. The decision applied to Croatia and Slovenia and sought to restrain President Milošević’s Greater Serbian nationalism, evidenced by the navy’s siege of Dubrovnik in the fall of that year. Critics, however, accuse Germany of partisanship, as it turned a blind eye to President Franjo Tuđman’s divisive tactics, chauvinistic agenda, and Croatia’s failure to insure full rights, territorial aspirations, and protection for the Serbian minority.
For decades, Germany has been the largest direct foreign investor, with Austria a close second. Croatia’s economy has been ailing for years, as industries and companies struggled to recover from the wars of the 1990s while simultaneously competing in more efficient foreign markets. Croatia’s nationalist Euro-sceptics worry about the survival of the country’s economy now that it has opened up to European competitors. EU membership also forces the country to re-negotiate economic cooperation with its Balkan neighbors. Particularly with Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia has entertained preferential and profitable trade that now has to be adjusted to EU regulations. Tourism is Croatia’s main source of income. In 2012 alone, of the 11 million tourists visiting Croatia, 1.85 million of them traveled from Germany to the Adriatic Coast of Dalmatia and the capital Zagreb.
Since 2004, the European Union has facilitated extradition between member states. The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) has led to the successful prosecution of a German serial killer in Spain, a failed London bomber captured in Italy, among others. In anticipation of Croatia’s membership, Austrian legal forces secured the arrest of former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader in 2010. In early 2013, Croatia was pressed to viginvestigate corruption, including Sanader, who was convicted. The fight against corruption on all levels of administration has been a continuous struggle.
All things considered, the ‘lex Perković’ was taken as a serious offense to Germany. Croatia had ignored the EAW for Josip Perković since it was first issued in 2005. A Bavarian court charged the former chief of the Croatian section of Yugoslavia’s secret service for the murder of a Croatian defector near Munich, Bavaria, in 1983. EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding’s attempt to prevent the ratification in June did not yield any results. Chancellor Angela Merkel abstained from the EU accession celebrations on June 30, 2013, blaming scheduling conflicts. In August, Reding threatened sanctions if the law, which contradicts EU legislation, were not immediately repealed. The Croatian Justice Minister remained silent, at least in public, until the arrest on New Year’s Day. Insiders also point out that this controversy is not only about foreign relations: Croatia has never successfully executed any legislation on lustration – neither for alleged crimes prior to 1991 nor with regards to war crimes committed in the 1990s. Under pressure from Germany, Croatia amended its law, and on the evening of Jan. 24, Perković was extradited. €
Upcoming Grants and Fellowship Deadlines
EUCE/ESC Klinzing Grant
Competition in EU Studies
The EUCE/ESC is proud to announce this year’s dissertation and pre-dissertation grant competitions, named in honor of former Vice-Provost of Research, George Klinzing. Grants are meant to facilitate graduate study on topics related to post-World War II European integration, broadly conceived. The dissertation grant will support dissertation research or the writing of a dissertation between May of 2014 and April of 2015. Pre-dissertation grants are available to students who have not yet completed their overview and who wish to do research or undertake an internship in Europe during the upcoming summer. Applications can be found online at http://www.ucis.pitt.edu/euce/content/graduate-student-funding-opportuni... Deadline: 4:30 p.m., March 3.
Graduate Student Fellowships
The EUCE/ESC is pleased to announce a competition for two fellowships for the 2014-15 academic year. The fellowships will be based on the criteria for Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships of the US Department of Education but will be supported by University funds. All languages must be studied in the context of a larger research project/scholarly program that has a European context. For more information please contact Allyson Delnore at email@example.com. Deadline: March 1.
Hewlett International Grant
This Program helps Pitt faculty in the development or completion of international projects, or helps to support presentations at international conferences or symposia. Information about eligibility, funding priorities, and application procedures is available at www.ucis.pitt.edu/main/node/259. Deadline: February 28.
This month, EUCE/ESC Newsletter Editor Gavin Jenkins interviewed alumnus Tunmise Layiwola, who graduated in 2011 with degrees in Political Science and History, as well as an Italian minor and a European Union certificate. Layiwola is a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University, where he is earning a master’s degree in Healthcare Policy and Management. While at Pitt, he was a member of the Italian Living and Learning Community, and he was also a Model EU Secretary. Layiwola was raised in Harrisburg.
Q: What inspired you to go to graduate school for Healthcare Policy and Management?
A: It kind of happened organically. For a short time after graduating from Pitt, I worked for a state senator in Harrisburg, whom I had interned with during the spring semester of my senior year. My work predominantly dealt with healthcare-related issues. Specifically, I assisted constituents who had Medicaid and Medicare issues. Most of it had to do with securing payment for their healthcare and prescriptions. In January of 2012, I decided that I really wanted a change, so I went to D.C. and worked in the office of a Congressman. While there, I shadowed the Congressman’s Legislative Assistant. I attended a few Healthcare hearings and researched a great deal about healthcare-related issues for the Legislative Assistant and the staff, as well. I knew that if I wanted to make a career out of this I had to create a foundation on one solid issue, and given my organic predisposition to healthcare, I decided to stick with it.
My program [at CMU] is structured around the U.S. healthcare system, so it makes more sense that I would work here after I graduate. However, I do plan on working abroad in about 5-7 years. Living abroad is something I’ve always wanted to do. Thus, when the opportunity presents itself down the line, I very much will take advantage of the opportunity.
Q: How is your work for the Innovation in Healthcare Technology Conference going?
A: It’s going incredibly well. I am currently working on gathering and reviewing abstract for the poster session that we will have during the conference. It’s amazing the different types of research people are doing in the areas of healthcare technology. From improving cell delivery to taking advantage of the bacteria that we carry around as humans. It’s astonishing the work people are doing. I definitely enjoy it and will be doing it again next year.
Q: How has the minor in Italian and the European Union certificate helped you?
A: Immensely. It is a striking section of my resume. It gives another dynamic to myself as an individual. Although a majority of individuals might want to focus on international politics after they’re done, I would rather focus on healthcare. Every country has a healthcare infrastructure. Sure, a lot of them are government-run, but nonetheless, an infrastructure that needs outside perspective to prevent tunnel vision.
Q: How has your time in Pittsburgh shaped what you want to do with your degrees?
A: Pittsburgh and I definitely have some magnetic connection. I’m originally from Harrisburg. When you’re a stone throw away from a world-class healthcare system that exists within a metropolitan area, it’s hard to avoid the call. Seeing the influence that a medical organization like UPMC has on the city is amazing and somehow that subconscious observation has led me to where I am. For me, the future is still a very big landscape, albeit not as sprawling as it used to be but big nonetheless. Right now, I would like to work in healthcare consulting, but I’m still working on being a little bit more specific. Specificity seems to get much more important as soon as you finish college.
Q: Were there any classes or EUCE/ESC events that influenced you while earning the EU certificate?
A: Definitely, “Politics of the EU.” Professor Alberta Spragia taught it at the time. I understand she doesn’t teach it anymore, but it was arguably one of the best classes I had. I was still on the fence at the time whether to do the EU or Western Civilization certificate, but that class sold me on the EU. It was comprehensive and very much engaging. It was a college class that felt more than it actually was.
Q: How did the Model EU help you?
A: The model EU forced me to become more adept about the EU structure and procedure. I remember the night before pouring over my class notes and textbook trying to remember the voting procedure of the commission. It was definitely a great experience. €
- Undergraduate Students
- Graduate Students
- Library Research Advisor
- Center Visitors
- K-12 Outreach